The Man in the Dark by Jonathan Whitelaw #BookReview #BlogTour

The Devil's back - and he's STILL not had a holiday.
There's another mystery to solve - a woman kidnapped by terrorists and the world trying to find her. While he hates doing God's bidding, The Devil can't resist trying to put one over on Him. But nothing is EVER that simple.
While the Devil helps the London cops crack the case, there's trouble in the Underworld. And two of humanity's greatest backstabbers - Brutus and Cassius - are sharpening their knives with an eye on stealing his crown.
It's a race against time to find the girl, be the bad guy and maybe stop the apocalypse.

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Man in the Dark today. Many thanks to Jonathan Whitelaw, Urbane Publications and Kelly from Love Books Blog Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Most of us really look forward to a much-needed holiday and the Devil is no exception. After solving an ancient crime in Jonathan Whitelaw's previous book, HellCorp, he could be forgiven for thinking he'd earned a break. God, however, has other ideas and even the Devil can't say no to him.
He's furious at having his hedonistic plans ruined and decides upon a visit to Department J in Hell to unleash his wrath on the employees he hates the most - the traitors. Two of the most notorious backstabbers in history are there, of course, and Brutus and Cassius manage to tempt the Devil into agreeing to disrupt the Natural Order of things.  Before he can formulate a plan - or reconsider - he finds himself back in London thanks to God's divine intervention and horrified to be stuck with the body of a human again. Worse, still, he is the lead suspect in a kidnapping case and is arrested by DS Laurie who is confused and angered by his answers when she interviews him. She is the least of his problems, though as DCI Lister is also interested in the case and he's a psychopathic narcissist. The Devil has to join forces with Laurie to discover the truth about what really happened to missing woman, Medina Cade but London is suddenly gripped by rioting and he's not sure how much he is to blame for the spreading lawlessness.
It's true that the Devil is rude, lazy and arrogant but Jonathan Whitelaw has succeeded in making him a rather endearing character here who I couldn't help but like. The Man in the Dark actually explores a fascinating premise where the plot isn't about God versus the Devil or good against evil but is instead a more nuanced story about the natural balance of things. There is a hilarious scene between God and St Peter which reveals that He not only cares about the Devil but that they also have an agreement which keeps things on some sort of an even keel most of the time - even if the humans' free will keeps them both busy.
The Devil and DS Laurie strike up an unlikely, sometimes uneasy alliance after she reluctantly accepts that he is who he claims to be. Although The Man in the Dark is a very funny black comedy, it isn't lacking in tension either and is still a cracking crime thriller as it gradually begins to seem as if the pair are on their own in the face of a relentless, crazed mob. Laurie's fears for her husband and daughter are as compelling as the Devil's own concerns about what is happening Downstairs and for all the dark humour, there are some scenes which are really quite shocking as they find themselves in terrible danger.
I thoroughly enjoyed HellCorp when I read it last year but The Man in the Dark is even better and can definitely be read as a standalone. The Devil steals the show, of course but Laurie is a superb sidekick and once again I loved the relationship between the Devil and God. The depiction of London as out of control and near apocalyptic is vividly realised and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes which revealed a glimpse into Hell. The mystery surrounding Medina Cade is woven beautifully into what becomes a wider story featuring two very dangerous antagonists in Brutus and Cassius; the ending which wraps up the mystery whilst still leaving readers with a cliffhanger regarding what the Devil will do next was fantastic and it definitely left me keenly anticipating the next book in the series. I recently enjoyed watching the Good Omens series based on Neil Gaiman's novel and there is no doubt that Jonathan Whitelaw's terrifically original book deserves to be mentioned alongside it as an irreverently funny yet still genuinely tense and often oddly touching story about the ultimate Upstairs Downstairs relationship. Highly recommended.

The Man in the Dark is published by Urbane Publications and can be purchased from Amazon UK, Hive or through your local bookstore.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste with everything in between. He's also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.
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