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How to Succeed in Evil
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How to Succeed in Evil (How to Succeed in Evil)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,377 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
How to Succeed in Evil is the story of Edwin Windsor, Evil Efficiency Consultant. He tries to help supervillains be more villainous. Or at least more profitable and sensible about the business side of Evil.

Along with his very proper and English secretary Agnes and his hench-lawyer Topper, he struggles to make the world of superpowered people make sense. But this is very d
Kindle Edition, 375 pages
Published December 12th 2013 by Good Words (first published 2006)
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Samuel Vymes
Here's the short version:

Ever since Austin Powers first deprived a henchmens wife of her husband, we've wondered what life is like on the other side of the Thin Spandex Line. This story is filled with humorous insights into not only how villains think and act, but also about the darker nature of Heroes. The main character is not a bad guy; he is a smart guy. And smart guys tend to be a bit Villainous. If you can get past the various grammatical errors in this book, you'll love the turned-table o
Really, this book only deserves two and a half stars, but I'm rounding up out of generosity. I just finished it, and honestly, I'm not even sure what the hell I just read.

There were parts of it where I was thoroughly enjoying myself - I enjoyed the math and statistics jokes, the golfing, and even the playing off of your standard Heroes and Villains tropes. I liked Edwin. I liked Topper. I hated Excelsior, which I think was the point the author was trying to get across, that Heroes aren't always
Kat Zantow
I listened the the audiobook, which was really produced well. The author is great at voices, and great at making some of the voices horrendously annoying. Namely, Topper.

Here comes the rant:

I think I would have really enjoyed this book if it weren't for Topper. That shrill, womanizing midget detracted significant style points from the novel. While he was a pretty good foil for Edwin, it just seems cruel to drag a horrendous short guy through the book to annoy the reader. He was a humor fail, an
Oct 19, 2012 Geoffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fantasy, superhero
My initial expectation was this would be somewhat silly if entertaining so it sat on my TBR list for a few months. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally picked up and started reading this. This has a little bit of everything - consultants, Bubbas, Super Villains, Dwarf Lawyers, destroyed buildings, disapproving British secretaries and more than a little unbridled greed ... what more can one ask for? This is a tongue in cheek look at super villains as well as superheroes and their motivation. ...more
Sep 11, 2013 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humor, ebook
Does even evil undergo existential identity crises in the post-modern, nihilistic age? This is another tongue-in-cheek look at super heroes and super villains and their keepers.

Needed one more proof reading: "…the faded memory of an Airborne logo is almost visible." And "…the day Gus will going to die."

As one who lived in LA (Lower Alabama) for several decades in the 1970s, I can attest he got it right. Except the location. LA is the Florida panhandle west of the Apalachicola River. Locals sugge
Crystal Starr Light
Have you ever wished you could live in an alternate universe where Spiderman regularly sweeps through the skies, where the Fantastic Four team up to fight evil, and where Superman could appear anywhere to rescue people from falling buildings?

Edwin Windsor lives in such a world, where men like Excelsior (think Superman), Lifto the Magnificent, and more are not uncommon. He in fact runs a business specializing in honing a villain's skills into money making schemes. But life never goes perfectly, a
Annelise Dias
Sep 02, 2013 Annelise Dias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love superhero books. I love supervillain books even more.

This one has a different approach to both, heroes and villains and it responds very good questions one does when reading about super-strong, super-rich and super-anything on this kind of universe.

It is a delicate work, showing the motivations and the development of a true super villain- and making you like him. The focus of the book is out of the box and the narrative is interesting and envolving, making you want just a little more all
Blake Nelson
Oct 21, 2009 Blake Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Patrick narrates the book himself and does an excellent job - this has been one of the best produced audio books I have ever listened too. I would highly recommend his short work at as well. It hasn't been updated for a while, but the archive is incredible.

The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it seemed to enter into extended monologues (generally economic in nature) that, while they did have a point, seemed a bit heavy hand
Verity Brown
Oct 31, 2015 Verity Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of superhero snark

I'm rating this book higher than it perhaps deserves, because I enjoyed it so tremendously most of the way through. It literally (not figuratively) had me laughing out loud. If you loved the movie Megamind and appreciate snarky examinations of superhero tropes, you'll probably enjoy this book.

The Good: Edwin Windsor doesn't want to be a villain himself; he'd much rather make money advising villains. The problem is that most villains are too stupid/proud/insane to apply his advice. Not that the l
John S
Jun 29, 2014 John S rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying that this review is 5 stars, but this does not mean that the book is without flaw. The editing in it is pretty poor, and grammar errors, along with missing words isn't all that rare. It however doesn't break the book and you should be able to get through it without issue, as it only happens once or twice a page.
Now with that out of the way, the material in the book is what warrants the review. This book is full of tongue-in-cheek humor. The "super" villians are unpredictab
A.F. Grappin
I loved this book. There was so much thought, so much action, so much reaction, that I can easily believe Edwin's consulting firm would have a place in real life. If superheroes made an amazing entrance into real life. The cast of the book was so human, so painfully true to life, that it is very easy to lose yourself in the plot, the world, and the schemes. I was upset when the novel ended. I got attached to the characters in an amazing way, considering this was only one book. I usually try to a ...more
Adam Shields
Nov 10, 2011 Adam Shields rated it it was ok
Short review: I remember this book from a series of podcasts about 6 or 7 years ago. It never finished so I picked up the book to see what happened. Unfortunately, this feels like a series of podcasts or short stories that are strung together into a novel without being fully integrated. The story concept is great. The result is mediocre.

My full review on my blog at
Jul 30, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly brilliant...demi-brilliant. If you dig the anti-hero and have a sense of humor (one that senses wry wit and irony [the real kind, not the Alannis Morisette kind]), this belongs on your to-read list. Not only that, you should read it. I'll be reading the sequel(s) when they finally come out. If I remember. Seriously, I got this for like 99cents at the Kindle store. Just buy it.
Aaron Schwartz
Aug 28, 2014 Aaron Schwartz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had a lot of fun with this book. It was both realistic and absurd, clever and ridiculous, subtle, and blunt. The book follows the story of Edwin Windsor, a businessman and consultant, who works with super villains to streamline and often monetize their schemes. The narration is often in his perspective, and brilliantly shows just how insane (as if it needs to be shown) a giant laser in space would be. Over the course of the book Windsor works with several villains, all with grand ideas that ar ...more
Steven Morton
Jul 25, 2014 Steven Morton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say I was not expecting much from this book but I was pleasantly surprised; McLean has a way with language which I have only seen in more established authors. Succeed was a fun book to read and it was funny but it was also very dark which I liked. It was interesting how McLean posed the question about superheroes; are they truly heroes if they listen to some other authority and not to their own heart and mind and fight the true evils of the world (famine, war,etc). We all know Excelsio ...more
Coyora Dokusho
Sep 01, 2014 Coyora Dokusho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very. Awesome!

While not often laugh-out-loud funny, it was so comic, with a wry kind of humor I really appreciated. It was an excellently-crafted story with compelling characters and a fascinating plot. The tone is subdued and dignified and I really enjoyed the break from my usual fare.
Lisa J
Nov 08, 2011 Lisa J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well written, but just couldn't finish it. Felt nothing for the character even by chapter 6, which is usually how far I'll go in a book before making a decision to continue. Characters seem flat and stereotypical, which is good for a short story, but not for a full novel.
Dec 02, 2014 Chip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what it is, but I really like a good book from the "evil" point of view. I don't know if this means that I'm a mad scientist in training, but I really enjoyed this book. It definitely kept me entertained on two airplane flights and the layover.
Mar 23, 2014 Kirkus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I bother to use tags I would put this under tragedy. There are some humor element told but most of the time I just became sad. Its rips illusion after illusion to shreds. Its deeper then most books I read but at the same time shallow due to the superhero theme.

Im reminded of another book on how a hero finally defeats the evil overlord, this causes the entire economy to crash and brings an even greater suffering to the population then the evil overlord did. The book "How to succeed in evil" al
Mar 09, 2012 Louis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt this book was ok for something i randomly found looking for books. It was good at some parts but got increasingly slow at other parts.I did enjoy the fact the author put in a superhero struggling with his own emotions and trying to decide what perk being a hero actually has. In this book I also liked the main character and his view on villains being a profitable business this is one of the only things I liked in the book. Another was the intriguing difference in the character and his lawy ...more
Dec 09, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: super hero fans, humor fans
Story: 5
Writing: 4.5
Enjoyment: 5
Podcast quality: 3

The Book
I love well done prose stories of superheroes and the like. They combine the familiar ideas of daring-do with more nuanced and insightful treatment. How to Succeed in Evil is definitely not a disappointment in this regard.

McLean starts subverting the superhero concept straight out of the gate as he forces his "superman" to deal with real physics, and fail.

When we meet the main character, Edwin Windsor, he's not a superhero. Nor is he a
Jul 27, 2013 Katerina rated it really liked it
Quante volte abbiamo visto un film, o letto un fumetto/libro, pensando che se al posto del cattivo ci fossimo stati noi avremmo conquistato il mondo, e facendoci anche una bellissima figura? E non siamo nemmeno in pochi, visto che on-line le liste di cosa fare nel caso si decidesse di diventare dei Signori del Male sono ampliate da anni.

McLean ha scritto un libro dove il protagonista incarna il lato più razionale e vagamente sociopatico di tutti noi, quando la trama raggiunge livelli di idiozia
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Emily Bennett
It is Edwin's job as a slightly sociopathic consultant for villains, to advise his clients to abandon their steroetypical, and conventional villainous ways, and instead, make them into tactical, profitable, and successful villains. Edwin will see it through to the end make them into the intellectual villains they were meat to be- not the overplayed, eyliner-wearing, psychotic mad scientist they are trying to be- even if it means dealing with a deranged woman who reads way too much Gone with the ...more
Terri Weitze
Jan 08, 2016 Terri Weitze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really was engaged by the concept of this book - a consultant for (super or super-wanna-be) villains; looking at evil deeds from a purely logical and for-profit perspective. Add to that fun, the anti-hero has a sidekick - a little person who is more than a little bit crazy and a top-notch lawyer. In a world where super heroes and super villains exist, who do you want in your corner? Characters are bizarre, yet oddly believable, and the plot keeps you guessing right to the end.
Leif Anderson
Sep 23, 2014 Leif Anderson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: funny
For me, this book had a very Joss Whedon sort of flavor to it. It started very lighthearted and slowly progressed into a pretty serious story. I can see how, if the hooks don't catch, you could be left feeling like the second half of the book was lame. However, I loved it.
Amber Calkins
The title and description gives this so much potential, but the writing style is terrible. The tenses change constantly even in the first few pages, and it's so much hassle trying to sort out the words I couldn't get into the story.

Editors are important.
May 26, 2015 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Made it to 20% when the author went on a two page description of making custom suits by hand. To me it was a waste of my time, so I moved on to another book. I won't be back to this author.
Dec 24, 2012 Victor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book started a bit slow, and unfortunately felt like the author was stuffing as many quirky things as they could into it. But as it moved forward it shook out the nonsense and did an excellent job of telling a story.

This was the story about an extraordinarily intelligent and disciplined man, one who unfortunately decided to pursue a career in advising super-villains (and I use the term super very loosely) in their crime. The journey, and inevitable conclusion, is amusing and well worth the
Patrick Elsey
While it's an interesting take on the subject, it seems to lack something as far as a final push goes. Without a full on supervillian the story is kind of weak.
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Patrick's work ranges from the autobiographical, to the absurd and fantastic. Describing himself as a "writer raised by Economists" his perspective on the world is naturally unusual. From violent revenge and musings on the value of life from a character who is dead (Unkillable) to the rage and frustration of a consultant who grows so sick of having his advice ignored that he decides to take over t ...more
More about Patrick E. McLean...

Other Books in the Series

How to Succeed in Evil (3 books)
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“Edwin is prepared to believe that a glass exists. And further, that this glass holds liquid.” 3 likes
“He is called Excelsior. In Latin the name means "ever higher". This impossible man does not know this. To be fair, there are a lot of words he doesn't know.” 1 likes
More quotes…