Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons on May 10, 2022
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From acclaimed television writer Stephen Lloyd comes a devilishly good debut: a lightning-fast horror/noir mash-up for fans of Jim Butcher and Joe Hill.
It's the 1980s and Sam Gregory, a substance-abusing war veteran turned insurance investigator, arrives at the galactically elite Danforth Putnam boarding school off the coast of New England to find a stolen manuscript of incalculable value. He soon senses that something far stranger than missing books is afoot--and when students begin vanishing from campus, he realizes how serious it is.
At the same time, a reporter is keeping an eye on Sam. Harriet, a physically fragile but spiritually indomitable writer for the school paper, is trying to figure out precisely what he's up to.
As events at the school become increasingly terrifying, Sam and Harriet both venture into increasingly dark territory to crack the mystery. In the end, they uncover a truth more horrible than they could have imagined.
Put the novels of Raymond Chandler and Bram Stoker in a blender, splash in a couple drops of Stranger Things, and pour yourself a nice tall glass of Friend of the Devil.
Friend of the Devil is set at a posh boarding school on its own island off the coast of Massachusetts. The school, Danforth Putnam, also serves as an orphanage and has for ages. We’ve got the typical mix of high school kids, nerds, over-achievers, bullies, and staff who range from caring to a little nutty. Into this mix comes Sam, an insurance investigator on the trail of a valuable lost book.
Friend of the Devil is slasher horror, with plenty of dead teenagers and lots of gore to slip in. Sam is kind of a hard-boiled detective not above threatening the kids on campus. Harriet, the school reporter, is also digging around, and they both uncover more than they expect.
You know how some slasher movies and scary and some are lighter, despite the jump scares. This falls in that second camp. It’s funny and over the top. You know who the monster’s going to target, you know it’s going to be gross, and you know who’s going to get away. I enjoyed it. It’s not a long read, the action keeps moving, and there’s a good twist at the end.
- Slasher horror
- Lots of dead teenagers
- Surprise twist ending