When I interviewed Peter McLean last year to help promote the release of the second volume in the War of the Rose Throne series, we talked about his other works and I was intrigued by the premise of his first trilogy. Thanks to the folks at Angry Robot, I was able to get my hands on Drake, first installment in the Burned Man series.

And I'm sure glad I gave the book a shot, because it was a fun and entertaining read!

Here's the blurb:

Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice The Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.

A dark and lugubrious London is the backdrop for this novel. The veil between the British capital and the underworld is relatively thin in certain areas and creatures of the night can often be found lurking around. Calling Drake a hitman is a bit of a stretch, however. He's more of an alcoholic deadbeat magician whose powers come from a small animated idol which is in truth a bound archdemon called the Burned Man. Drake must feed the idol with his own blood and with its help he summons demonic entities from hell to dispatch his victims. Hence the label hitman, even though he kills his targets without dirtying his own hands with their blood. But when a job goes awry and results in the shocking death of an innocent child, Drake finds himself consumed with grief and guilt. This finally convinces him that it is high time to leave his bloody line of work forever. Alas, the demon he's indebted to is not a compassionate and understanding soul.

Drake is a fast-paced and witty urban fantasy novel. Noirish in style and tone, it makes for a compelling read. The only thing that some readers might find a bit offputting is that the book is filled with lots of British slang. Nothing to worry about, as you always get the gist of it and the story takes place in London, after all. But given that Angry Robot publishes works on both sides of the Atlantic, I would have thought that they might have downplayed this aspect a little.

The story is told from the perspective of Don Drake. First person narratives can be tricky things, but witnessing events unfold through the eyes of such a flawed protagonist makes for an enjoyable reading experience. Like Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, Don Drake is not always the sharpest tool in the shed. However, Drake has a veritable knack for always making the wrong decisions and seldom learning from his mistakes. In that regard, he makes Harry Dresden look like the soul of wisdom. Drake has his heart in the right place, but he is a coward and can't seem to find the strength to ever do the right thing. Until everything is on the line and he has no choice. The supporting cast is comprised of violent femmes fatales, over-the-top villains, and everything else in between.

Drake is an urban fantasy work that reads like a classic noir mystery. The pace is fluid throughout and there is not a dull moment between its covers. The novel works as a stand-alone, but it sets the stage for what should be equally entertaining and hilarious sequels.

If you are looking for a fun page-turner featuring a lovable dumbass protagonist to help you cope with confinement during this pandemic, Peter McLean's Drake might just be what the doctor ordered!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

0 commentaires: