America’s Civil War left wounds on the land that bled for over a century—and perhaps something even more terrible that will never heal. A man on the edge, haunted by a recent personal tragedy, homicide detective Martin Decker has been assigned to investigate a bizarre series of gruesome and seemingly random mutilation murders plaguing Richmond, Virginia. A serial killer is somehow finding his way into locked rooms to butcher his victims before vanishing without a trace, and the only witness is a young woman with Down syndrome who claims to have seen the man responsible for the horrific carnage. But the bloody trail is leading Decker to a place where his sanity will be sorely tested—and where pure evil has given rise to an unstoppable nightmare of terror and death.
This gripping masterwork of horror fiction from Graham Masterton, the award-winning author of The Manitou, takes horror to a breathtaking new level. A story not for the faint of heart, The Devil in Gray is a stunningly original tale of terror, one of the very best, from an acknowledged giant of the genre.
Willow on Amazon wrote:
Having previously read Masterton's The House That Jack Built I looked forward to The Devil in Gray. I'm sad to say I was disappointed. The former work grabbed and held my attention, requiring I read through as quickly as possible. Our paperback copy was so devoured by the end of 2 readings by 2 people it was falling apart. We plan to buy another - preferably on Kindle, which hasn't been released. I just finished Devil in Gray, finding it easy to put down, and were it in paperback, it would be nearly pristine on the shelf - or more likely donated.
I am always hesitant to review fiction; enjoyment is so subjective. What I found merely ok another may love. However, having read another of Masterton's works I find that while he can weave and tell a wonderful tale, this was not among those.
Masterton is British and while I love British works and am very comfortable with reading the styles I found his transfer of British terms and slang to be stumbling blocks in this piece. Words don't match the American-English usage, often throughout the piece making reading jolty and uneven. Throughout the book I altered wording in my head as I read simply so that the sentence or action flowed better.
The story itself was ok. I was so excited by the premise, but found myself pushing myself to finish rather than driven to. I never got into his main character, Martin, a Virginia detective trying to solve several gruesome murders. It is Martin who dares to believe in the unbelievable, yet I never bought him as the type. Characterization, who Martin is, his portrayal all feel forced. While I was looking forward to the ghost story (possible spoiler) the inclusion of voodoo and other such religions felt also forced: a way to "deal with" the reasoning for the ghost character rather than a natural progression. Perhaps it was how it was introduced or executed, but the movement from murder to possibility of a ghost to the religious element was so clunky I figured it was a way to solve a story problem rather than conscious decision to use. I often felt like I was reading 2 separate books meshed together; one idea didn't work so he used a separate one to write a book. I enjoyed the inclusion of the charming young girl with Downs Syndrome (only one of two who can see the ghost) and her mother, but first they were under used, then just sort of there and in a dangerous situation, just for the sake of a dangerous situation.
On several occasions it seemed like Masterton wasn't even reading his own work, scene descriptions felt impossible to execute or simply implausible. For example, in an important scene Martin is retreating, standing on a ladder and upward incline while holding things in both hands, yet somehow is able to use his (3rd?) hand to maneuver himself up. Or a situation that causes great damage to an apartment building, but our hero, Martin, leaves without making aware the other residents who in the next moment are streaming from the building to safety. Not great public service by a detective playing not nice with ghosts.
I loved The House that Jack Built; I felt pretty much the 180 of The Devil in Gray. I always believe people should choose and read for their own pleasure, but if it were me, I'd appreciate the heads up. If you're looking for a great Masterton tale check out THTJB, but maybe skip visiting the Devil in Gray. Loves of the Civil War may like this better than ghost tale lovers. I love both and was disappointed.
An invisible slasher is on the loose in a small American town, carving up its victims in the very best style of Masterton. Detectives Hicks and Decker are assigned to try to make sense of the growing body count, only to be draw into a world of unspeakable horror and dark magic. The only ally they have, appears to be that of a little girl who has Downs syndrome, she is the only one able to see the "So-Scary Man" as she calls him.
This is a good read and I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the macabre and gruesome.