A detective, a priest, and a demon walk into a bar……


What if Paul Farrington, a veteran fixer for a shady corporation, found himself targeted for elimination just as he was trying to finance his daughter’s Ivy League education? How far would he go to provide for his family and keep them safe? What if detectives Frank Mallory and Alberto “Gunner” Gennaro were forced to play catch up with a killer who may or may not be a demon and who leaves trails of Dantesque murders, each one occurring further south in Manhattan and deeper into his version of The Inferno? How could these situations be connected? How long can the detectives stick to strict police procedural facts when confronted with increasingly bizarre events, especially once they begin invading Mallory’s private life? And how does he find a balance between his rejection of the case’s alleged demonic elements and his strong desire to believe his dying father’s visions of long dead relatives beckoning him to heaven? When must a detective reconsider what exists outside man’s law?

It sounds like the set up to a really great joke, right?  This book is no joke. The City of Woe by Christopher Ryan is a wild ride down the rabbit hole with two of New York City’s finest, on the trail of a serial killer.  The main character Mallory, a second-generation detective of Irish Catholic descent, and his partner Gunner take the lead on the murder of a youth that had been at the Who concert in Madison Square Garden. The murderer left his thoughts written out on index cards, at the murder scene.  As the detectives follow procedure to try to solve the case, it gets weird. The killer manages to stay one step ahead of them, and continues to kill while taunting the police. The killer plans his kills and links them to Daunte’s Inferno all while leaving clues for Mallory to chase down. The trail leads them to a local priest who had ties to a troubled man Mallory believed was the killer. Father Carry had befriended the young man to monitor him for demon possession. The priest tried to assist Mallory and Gunner in their investigation convinced that the demon residing in the disabled man had jumped to a new host. The killer begins to make things personal by leaving evidence at Mallory’s home which causes Mallory to close ranks to protect his family. In the middle of the investigation, Mallory’s world is shaken by the imminent death of his father.  Mallory had to choose between the investigation and his family and chose the investigation at his father’s urging. 

    The book was a suspenseful read, with never a dull moment. I enjoyed the banter between Mallory and Gunner and their relationship felt natural. The turmoil that Mallory feels about the Catholic church and God, in general, is relatable and Ryan even captured the Catholic guilt that seems to be instilled in us at a young age.  I like that he included the priest and the exorcism rites as it completed the fight between good and evil. The attention to detail that he had during the investigation was great and kept the story moving and interesting. I will definitely be reading the subsequent books in the series to see what Mallory and Gunner are up to next.  I hope you get a chance to follow Mallory and Gunner in their investigations as well.  

     Thanks for checking out my reviews and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or my webpage!

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