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City of Devils

City of Devils

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World War II was only the beginning. When the Night War ravages America, turning it into a country of monsters, humans become a downtrodden minority. Nick Moss is the only human private eye in town, and he’s on the trail of a missing city councilor. With monsters trying to turn him – or, better yet, simply kill him – he’s got to watch his back while trying to find his man. Or mummy, as the case may be.

Once, it was the City of Angels. But now, Los Angeles is the City of Devils…and Nick has a devil of a job to do.

330 pages, Paperback

First published September 23, 2013

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About the author

Justin Robinson

35 books151 followers
Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews
Profile Image for sj.
404 reviews79 followers
August 24, 2013
The other day Justin Robinson‘s new novel City of Devils became available to review and I jumped on it. Well, not literally, but close to it. I was doing something else, read the email on my phone and promptly ran to the laptop to add it to my reader. Cos Mr Blank was one of my favourite new-to-me-author reads of last year (and pretty much everyone I’ve forced it on has agreed), and after reading the description of this book, I knew it was something I would love just as much.

I love it when I’m right.

City of Devils is the story of Nick Moss – veteran of the Great War and the Night War – the only human private detective left in all of ’50s Los Angeles. The cop shops are full of werewolves and wolfmen (yes, there’s a difference), robots are film directors, actors are doppelgangers (beings that can change their appearances at whim), there’s a mummy on the city council, and the monsters have made life hard for humanity.

If you’re a human and you’re out at night, you’re fair game. There’s a treaty in place to protect you from being turned (or killed) during the daylight hours, but as soon as the sun goes down, the monsters come out to turn us into their babies.

Which is all a very interesting backdrop for the central mystery of the story – a philandering philanthropist of a mummy (in a mixed marriage with a doppelganger) who’s gone missing…and whose partners are all being killed off.

Nick is something of a bumbler, and it’s difficult to see how he’s managed to avoid being turned up to the point our story begins, but watching him get into and out of various predicaments is nothing short of a great time.

Honestly? This is a book I kind of WANT to see on screen. I’d love to see it picked up by SyFy (and I mean that in the best possible way) as a Movie of the Week or a series. There’s enough here that could be built on that would keep me watching for several seasons.

City of Devils isn’t anything totally serious, take a look at that cover and know that it delivers on what it promises. A noiry, pulpy good time that would be perfect for a beach read – but since it doesn’t come out until September, you’ll have to read it somewhere else. Just read it, though, because it’s clever and funny and monsterrific.

Thanks to Candlemark and Gleam for the review copy, and thanks to Justin for writing ANOTHER book I loved and can’t wait to share with everyone.

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Wayne McCoy.
3,801 reviews22 followers
December 19, 2013
City of Devils takes the Los Angeles of the 1940s and 1950s and populates it with monsters. When monsters take over the world, and specifically L.A. it leaves the humans as the hunted. There are mummies, vampires, zombies, werewolves, killer robots, ghouls, shapeshifters, merpeople and the list goes on.

Nick Moss is a human detective in this crazy town. After surviving World War 2, he found himself at war with the monsters. Now he lives among them. A movie star's husband is missing and Nick is on the case to find him. The difference is she's a shapeshifter and the missing husband is a mummy. All that's left is some gauze and sand. The case leads Nick into some dangerous and hilarious territory.

It's a detective noir story crossed with modern urban fantasy. The humor works pretty well too as we see what jobs monsters find themselves in. Shapeshifters are good movie stars, zombies are grunt labor (pun intended), cops are werewolves, etc. The mystery is interesting and sets itself up nicely for a potential series. I really enjoyed this book.

I was given a review copy of this book by Candlemark & Gleam and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for letting me review this book.
Profile Image for Mana Taylor-Hall.
13 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2013
Classic Noir and Movie Monsters in Just the Right Blend

A good noir detective story needs certain elements:

A wise-cracking detective with panache and moxie? Nick Moss fits the bill.

A long-legged receptionist whose is loyal to her boss but dreams for more? We have Serendipity Sargasso who dreams of being discovered.

A femme fatale with uncertain motives? Imogen Verity, star of the screen fits the bill.

Movie monsters roaming the street hoping to feast on the miniscule percentage of the population that is still human? Yes. Wait. Normally no, but for City of Devils? YES.

Robinson turns the tired cliches of the detective story into something fun and altogether unique. Even when cheering for our all-too-human protagonist as he matches wits against witches, werewolves and wendigos, the story gives its inhuman characters a tale that you want to know as well.

Additional edit (9/23/13): Just got the official digital version. They added fantastic art inserts and perfectly pitched time-period and noir-appropriate ads. Making a good story a unique book.
Profile Image for Kelly.
60 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2013
Review originally published here.

There was once an episode of my favourite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour (which I've talked about before here on the blog), where they discussed things that were so in tune with their tastes that it seems as though it was made especially for them. I'd never quite experience anything like that myself. I mean, I've liked a lot of things (and continuously like a lot of things), but never anything so spot on that it seemed like it was made for me.

That was until I came across City of Devils. In fact, this book was so me I was a little worried when I read the synopsis, because my expectations were immediately raised to an almost impossible level. I was worried they had been raised so high that there was no way this book would be good enough to meet those expectations (as I've experienced a few times this year with various reads).

I was so wrong! This book is exactly as good as I had hoped, and it is so in tune with my tastes, I worried for a second that I had fallen into The Twilight Zone. You know, maybe an episode where an madcap author slinks around people's subconscious thoughts, pulling snippets of what people like in order to write the ultimate novel. Only to become a piece of the novel himself because, you know, there's always a twist at the end (hey, I never said I was Rod Serling, but it certainly could have been a plot of one of the lesser-written Charles Beaumont episodes).

I'm getting off track here, back to City of Devils.

Let me try to sum this one up for you: Nick Moss, private detective in 1950's Los Angeles, is the only non-monster still operating as a private dick. Not only is he the only human PI left, but he's one of the dwindling few actual humans left in the city after the Night War where humans and monsters battled it out and finally came to an uneasy truce. Moss is hired by actress, and doppleganger, Imogen Verity to locate her missing husband, councilman (and mummy) Juba II after he goes missing and the police (who are all wolfmen or werewolves, depending on the part of the county you're in) figure he's dead and like Miss Verity for the crime. Nick Moss then finds himself embroiled in a missing persons case that ends up full of the monster equivalent of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, with a darker secret at the core of it all.

Oh ya, and it's funny.

If that didn't get you chomping at the bit to read this book, I'm not sure we can be friends.

The thing that really stood out for me with this book is the fact that Robinson obviously is very well versed in the realms of classic Hollywood monsters and classic pulp detective fiction, and he wrote this book because he loves those two things. We have not only classic vampires and wolfmen, but giant crawling eyes, pumpkinheads, gigantic robots, gill-men, mummies, and a host of other silly monsters that drum up instant visuals in the mind of monster-movie buffs everywhere. Then, on top of that, Robinson expertly plays with the standard tropes and practices of the classic detective novel (we're talking your Chandlers and Hammetts here), and combining the two not only creates a good little mystery, but more importantly, this extremely well-rounded and interesting world. You throw humour into all of it and it has the breath of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency, without being a knock-off or ape of that book. It's in the same genre, but not an imitation (what would you call the mash up of pastiche pulp detective novel, comedy, and monsters? We have to come up with a name because I love this genre).

There are small bits in this book that are just brilliant - and instead of being throwaway jokes Robinson uses them to help us better understand the world and the characters. My absolute favourite of these is Nick Moss constantly trying to smoke. He says at the beginning he carries around a pack to offer to clients and people he's talking to, but he doesn't actually smoke himself. He decides that in order to better fit the stereotype of the private detective he should really start himself, but whenever he tries to put one in his mouth he ends up looking like a doofus. For example:
I shook a cigarette out of the pack and managed to miss my hand. It rolled away into the dark, and I tried to pretend that had been the plan all along.


There are several of these, and they had me giggle every time. We even have a moment where Moss manages to get one up his nose by mistake. But not only does Robinson poke fun at the PI with a smoke constantly hanging out of his mouth, instead of a smooth-talking Marlowe or Spade, we have Moss who tends to yammer a bit, and speaking first without thinking, playing with another classic trope of the extremely bitingly witty and self-assured PI.

There's also just plain great moments of suspense and description that really do read like Chandler or Goodis or Walsh.
Her voice was smooth, powerful, like good scotch with a gasoline chaser.


And:

"Verb please," Daisy said, sighing, which in that low cut dress was practically a humanitarian mission.


There are so many other great one-liners, moments of humour, and examples of great character/world-building, but I don't want to ruin it for you - these should really be read in their context. So just do yourself a favour and get the book.

Robinson doesn't waste one opportunity to build the world or the characters, and when the book was over I was quite upset because I desperately wanted more. I would love to see more stories with Nick Moss, and I would love to find out more about the Night War that brought us to this alternate world where monsters dominate and humans are a dwindling breed.

I rarely give a book five stars, but this one deserves it whole-heartedly. City of Devils is definitely my favourite book that I've read this year so far, and will probably hold that title even though there's almost four months left to go until 2014.
Profile Image for Kate.
124 reviews10 followers
August 3, 2016
Life ain't easy for a private eye - especially when you can't go out after dark and the things that go "bump" in the night now run the world. Nick Moss, the last human PI in a 50s Los Angeles that is run by classic movie monsters come to life, is holding it together, though, doing his best to make ends meet while staying human. That simple goal becomes very difficult when he's hired by a doppelganger movie star to uncover what's happened to her politically connected mummy husband. A simple missing-mummy case quickly turns into a twisting, turning noir-style adventure, with Nick stuttering and stammering his way through encounters with witches, ghosts, phantoms, and werewolves, oh my.

Robinson's clever, witty writing delights at every turn, and his world-building is mind-blowing - well-developed, immersive, never infodumpy. It's so engaging, you'll find yourself wondering whether you'd want to be turned, and by whom. And don't even get me started on the characters - fully realized, vivid, quirky...even the secondary (heck, even the throwaway) characters are developed to the full.

Don't miss the print version - it's laden with character illustrations and other awesome bonuses.

An homage to the B-movie monsters I love, a ripping good noir detective story, and a fantasy romp that will leave you craving more. Consider the boxes ticked.
Profile Image for Mara.
2,467 reviews228 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 21, 2013
I want to apologize to author and publisher, but after reading half of this book, I really could not go on. I was simply bored by a great idea. Sounds weird? It is. City of Devils has a great idea, but it's one of those I'm not fond of.

Imagine Star Wars and then Space Balls. Now image The Maltese Falcon and then the cover of this book...See my point? Great parody, but it's not something for me.

In a parody you don't have, don't need, world-building, plot and the like. But these are the things that make a book interesting for me.
Moreover, I had the idea that the author was trying a little too hard to make it work. Too forced the humour, too forced all those monsters from all the 50s B movies. Half way still no plot to talk about. And again, it's absolutely logical because the story was the parody and I could perfectly see it. But, sorry, not my cuppa.

If you are wondering whether you'll like it or not, forget the blurb and look and the cover. It's honest and really gives you the idea :D

ARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley
Profile Image for Scott.
42 reviews
August 21, 2013
City of Devils reads like a fun B movie romp. The only human detective in a Los Angeles overridden by classic movie monsters, Nick Moss finds trouble at every turn. These are werewolves, mummies, fishmen and phantoms unlike any you've see before. Written tongue-in-cheek, much like his earlier novel Mr. Blank, City of Devils will keep you chuckling while burning through pages in hopes of seeing Moss solve the case before time, and his ability to elude becoming a monster himself, run out on him.
Profile Image for Linsbug.
94 reviews2 followers
July 18, 2013
"That's the problem with hiring a human dick, ma'am."
There was a long silence while we stared at each other.
Finally, I said quietly, "It's just a figure of speech."

A book about a human private detective in a world of monsters...
"You're a dick."
I nodded.
"But you're not a werewolf."
I shook my head.
"Then what the hell are you?"
"Human."

Overall City of Devils is a humorous book with a very creative, very different world that has a mystery woven in. It follows human private detective Nick Moss as he searches for the missing husband, Juba II (mummy), of Hollywood star Imogen Verity (doppleganger).

As Nick works on his case, he finds himself unravelling a web of underground illegal activities that continue to put him in increasing danger as he is more and more often exposed to the monsters that have overtaken the once-before City of Angels.

I will say, despite its mystery classification, in my opinion there was more time spent describing monsters and the world than was spent on the plot and building up/solving the mystery. (Although the monsters and the world are hilarious, so it hardly detracts from the entertainment value.) Because of this, however, I am more inclined to classify this novel as humor than as mystery.

And that is the root of the book. The humor and the monsters. Hilarious.

There are, as mentioned, mummies and dopplegangers, but also wolfmen, robots, giant eyeballs with tentacles, sea hags, gill men, ghosts, phantoms, invisible people, headless horsemen, carnivorous carrots, vampires, human flies, and so much more. Not to mention, my personal favorite, pumpkinheads.

The dialogue that follows is equally hilarious and really can only be appreciated by reading the book. Everything Nick says just solidifies his character, which is far from some superhuman superhero Gary Sue. He is an everyday kind of guy (that anyone can relate to) who is stuck in a ridiculous world just trying to maintain his humanity -- and his sanity.

As a private detective, there is only so much Nick can do during the day; sometimes he has to venture out at night. However, in L.A./The City of Devils, turning humans is fair game after sundown. Suffice it to say, humans want to be locked in their homes by then. But, no matter what, every night Nick is harassed by the same relentless pumpkinhead, Sam, who waits outside his house.
"Clean it up, I come in, I have a beer." He smelled like Halloween, even through the door.
"What was I, born yesterday? You don't want a beer. You want to turn me."
"Being a pumpkinhead is great."
"Your
head is a pumpkin ."

And being caught outside, after dark, is really a danger humans do not want to be caught in. If you are caught, well, I suppose you can only hope you get turned by something a little more desirable.
Crawling eyes saw everything. If I sprinted into the wilderness, he'd see me clear as day and I'd be finished. He'd know I was human instantly, and then I'd be wishing I let Sam Haine turn me into a pumpkinhead while I lived out the rest of my days as a giant eyeball.

But Nick Moss is good at his job and exposure to monsters is frequent. He is, however, always prepared -- and I found it hilarious the arsenal he carried around for protection as each monster is susceptible to its own repellant/weapon. Dopplegangers to mirrors, phantoms to whistles, witches to water, robots to impossible geometry/optical illusions...


I reached into my pocket and whipped out my robot prevention: a postcard with M. C. Escher's Relativity on it. Gortran stopped in his tracks. The face flickered, spun, wiped, and suddenly was an empty prompt. His face said "LOADING..."

As someone who has never before read a book like this, I greatly enjoyed it. It was so offbeat and original. I recommend it to anyone looking to laugh a little and stretch the bounds of their imagination.

It should be noted, as I tend to only read books with a love story worked into it, that this book does not incorporate a love story. Not that there is anything wrong with that! I just mention it in case anyone is wondering.

Thank you, NetGalley and Candlemark & Gleam for the opportunity to read this book!
Profile Image for Patrick.
318 reviews
September 1, 2015
It comes as no surprise that Justin Robinson, author of City of Devils, is an accomplished novelist with more than a dozen books under his belt. It takes a certain of amount of practice to be able to sustain a comic tone against the realities of the book's premise. City of Devils takes place in a Chinatown-meets-Who Framed Roger Rabbit fantasy reality in which World War II was followed by a "Night War" between humans and monsters, of a couple dozen varieties - witches, vampires, ogres, gremlins, werewolves, and so on. Robinson deals with the Night War events as backstory known to the narrator and presumably his listeners, therefore cleverly avoiding the necessity of fleshing it all out.

The upshot of the Night War was an uneasy truce in which monsters clearly have the population and the power, but are restricted from preying on the dwindling number of humans during daylight hours. At night, anything goes. In a confrontation, the monsters can be defeated (rather too easily, in my view) by the use of many of the time-honored charms and warding-off substances, and a few new ones.

Our protagonist, Nick Moss, the last remaining human detective in the greater Los Angeles area, carries a shop's-worth of these protections around with him at all times, which must ruin the line of his jacket. But Nick has worse problems to deal with. Not being able to safely go out at night handicaps his detective practice, and every monster in sight is trying to "turn" him, make him another of their kind. The pumpkinhead that hangs out on his lawn is particularly desperate and annoying (and funny).

Nick generally maintains his good cheer, despite the fact that this would be a distressing world to live in. Occasionally he does get rueful:

"Still, had to warn the robot and the crawling eye that the gremlin was going to kill them. And then hate the fact I lived in a world where such a sentence was said with a straight face."

It ain't all sunny for the monsters, either. They turn humans out of desire - it is their equivalent of sexual desire - but also out of necessity; they cannot "reproduce" in any other way. Since the supply of humans will eventually run out (sooner rather than later, presumably; human children are scarcely mentioned in the book), and since monsters CAN die (we get several spectacular examples), the end-game is not looking particularly good for either side.

A few premise quibbles may dawn on you if you're a spoilsport. Where the monsters "came from" in the first place, and how new varieties keep appearing - Nick can't remember human flies appearing "before about six months ago" - is not exactly made clear. The nature of Nick's or any other humans' resistance to being turned is not spelled out, either; Nick mentions that he likes being human, but it would take a good deal more heroic resolve than that to survive in such a world. The werewolves on the LAPD who want to bring Nick onto the force clearly do so because of his surprising skills, but I didn't notice a discussion of how much of a human's character and memories survives the transition to monsterhood.

Nick specializes in missing persons - missing HUMAN persons, who have usually already been turned - but at the start of the novel is asked by a female doppelganger movie star to find her mummy husband. This leads Moss into a labyrinth of monster equivalents of prostitution, pornography, and drugs, all very cleverly handled. The plotting of City of Devils is superior and a sign of a real craftsman.

Many Hollywood touches creep into the narrative, which you could argue about as to whether they are part of the satire or not. As mentioned, none of the monsters' stabs at turning Nick are effectual, and in a number of chase sequences, he evades his pursuers with aplomb (although he sure does get messed-up, necessitating frequent trips to his drycleaner). Although Nick's escape maneuvers are minutely described, I'm not sure that makes them any more plausible, and his relative ease in pulling them off reduces the monsters' scare factor by about 50%. In truth, Robinson's array of nasty beings are more akin to the classic movie versions of monsters that plague Abbott and Costello than to the legends behind them. There is not a single entity in the book who could give you the willies the way monsters in late Seventies and early Eighties horror movies could - Alien, The Fly, The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

But all of my reservations noted, City of Devils is finally a most entertaining read, and if it leads to a series (that could expand on some of my question marks), no one would be complaining.
Profile Image for Red Lace Reviews.
289 reviews56 followers
July 13, 2015
Top Read 2013

The former City of Angels now belongs to the monsters of all shapes and sizes, whom now greatly outnumber humanity. Nick Moss, Private Investigator, finds himself caught in the middle of all the madness when he’s hired by a famous doppelganger actress. Trying to find her missing husband, Nick (the Dick) has to put his life in danger and face off against werewolves and phantoms, among other things, to crack the case.

(I received this book via NetGalley for my honest review. I give my thanks to Candlemark & Gleam publishers for giving me the chance to review it. Oh, and I thank Justin Robinson for writing it! Please be aware that this review may contain spoilers before reading further.)

Not only was this book delightfully hilarious, it was extremely creative and exciting. In fact, it was genius! I can’t possibly describe how much I enjoyed this book. Let me get this point across – I don’t read detective novels, nor mystery for that matter. What attracted me to this story was the fantasy element, but I was still unsure if it would be my thing. I was shocked when I started reading, because it instantly appealed to me. Tasteful writing, a fantastic protagonist and a story full of action.

Justin Robinson included SO MANY creatures and he did it so well; vampires, werewolves, wolfmen, phantoms, gremlins, ghosts, zombies, witches, doppelgangers, robots, pumpkin-heads, mummies, the list goes on and on. Each had their own particular weaknesses; whistles for phantoms, mirrors for doppelgangers, wolfsbane for the wolves, etc. They were all described brilliantly and the added humour went a long way, for instance; all zombies could say were ‘brains’, robots couldn't help but exclaim‘terminate all humans’ randomly and the gremlins… well, I fell in love with them. They were undoubtedly my favourite monster. All I have to say is;

Hi ho.

The leading man, Nick Moss, was so amazingly human amongst the monsters. I don’t think I've ever read a book were the protagonist was so wonderfully realistic, that even his clumsy dialogue added to his humanity. He was certainly not perfect, or fearless, or even that attractive. He made mistakes and he acted upon spur of the moment decisions which nearly killed him multiple times, but he didn't come across as foolish. In fact, his intelligence and quick thinking were his strengths. Never underestimate a smart individual, even if he doesn't have the extreme abilities of his foes. He was always deliberately cautious around the monsters, even the beautiful women, and sex almost never entered his mind. There was zero romance, which is different from my usual tastes, but I was simply too entertained to care. I’m a fan of Nick, I think that’s obvious!

Other characters I loved were Serendipity, Hexene, Sam and Billie (<3). Even though they may have played a minor role, they left an impression. Nick’s relationship with Sam the pumpkin-head made me laugh out loud like an idiot. It’s the little things that give flavour to stories, make them even greater. The little things that riddled this superb book I couldn't help but adore.

The plot was full of twists and turns and overall it never became dull. The trouble Nick got himself into was nothing short of nerve-wracking. Yes, I suspected some of the answers before they were revealed, but that didn't ruin my experience in the slightest. I won’t say I’ll begin reading mystery novels however, as this was a special case.

I really hope I have the chance to read another one of Nick’s adventures. It would be a real shame if this wasn't the beginning of a series!

© Red Lace 2013
Profile Image for Fanbase Press.
6 reviews
January 7, 2015
The following review was originally posted on Fanboy Comics at the following link:
http://fanboycomics.net/index.php/blo...


'City of Devils:' Book Review
by Jodi Scaife, Fanboy Comics Contributor

A missing city councilman, his frightened movie star wife, and more suspects than you can count without taking off your shoes. Private Eye Nick Moss is on the case. There’s only one problem. He’s the last human PI in the city. His client is a shapeshifter, the missing councilman is a mummy, and most of the suspects would like to eat Moss.

Los Angeles is a rotten city for a human. After beating the Nazis, the brave men of America fought a new and more terrifying threat. In the Night War, they faced real monsters, like actual real monsters, and they lost. So now, humans live as second-class citizens in a post-war LA and try to get by without getting turned into a pumpkinhead, wolfman, or any of a dozen other monsters. Moss will have to get very lucky or be incredibly skilled if he wants to get to the bottom of this case without turning into a gourd or feeling a strong urge to chase down Frisbees.

The story is a competent noir despite the supernatural twist. I should be very clear here. Achieving competency in a noir story is a feat of tremendous skill. The plot is labyrinthine and the characters range from untrustworthy to hostile. There are two additions to the style that work perfectly in this story.

The monsters run the show and make sure the meatsticks humans know it. This drives home the allegory portion of the story, where humans play the part of any group of systemically oppressed people and the monsters represent the monsters who keep them down. What I loved about this part of the story is that it was cleverly done and never really in-your-face. You can enjoy this book without considering the social implications, and it all works beautifully.

The other thing that this book adds to the standard noir formula is humor. This is a funny book. The premise alone is amusing, but the way it is told really drives the humor home. For example, the dialogue between Moss and his former neighbor and current pumpkinhead Sam is an absolute scream. (Ed. - Really?) Moss also delivers some incredible wisecracks and includes a few puns, which are the shortest way to my heart. The jokes are occasionally bad, but the good kind of bad, and the result is a book that would be worth recommending if only for the humor.

Now, I have to mention the things that I didn’t like about City of Devils.

With that taken care of, let’s wrap this up.

City of Devils is a light-hearted (mostly) noir detective story that successfully incorporates monsters, ghouls, and ghosts into 1950s LA. The result is an inventive world with a compelling mystery and a funny protagonist. This book is absolutely worth your time.


Five Mummy’s Boys out of Five
Profile Image for Sarah.
241 reviews7 followers
October 9, 2013
Do you like detective stories? Do you like mysteries? Do you like femme fatales and gumshoes and old Hollywood?

Do you like monsters?

Then stop right now and go get this book. Read it, and come back and thank me later.

Monsters!!

Our hero, Nick Moss, is a private detective, specializing in investigating missing persons cases. But this is no run of the mill detective story: in the world of City of Devils, monsters are real, and humans are at a distinct disadvantage. While most cops and detectives are werewolves or wolfmen, Nick is 100% human. This puts him at a distinct disadvantage: aside from the supernatural advantages monsters have, humans have to be in their homes by dark, or be at risk of being turned into a monster themselves.

Nick usually finds himself on the case of missing humans, but this time, he's looking for Juba II, a missing mummy who happens to be a very important man around town. Nick's investigation takes him deep into the monster side of town, to such places as a poltergeist biker bar, the lot of a Hollwood movie studio (P.S., Hollywood is literally run by monsters), and a very interesting sort of brothel.

The worldbuilding here is awesome, and you can tell the author has really thought out everything about the universe. You learn what the weaknesses are for different monsters, where they hang out, what their strengths are... there's been a lot of thought as to how the world works and how humans and monsters manage to co-exist. You get a bit of backstory on Nick, who was a soldier during WWII, and then again during the Night War, which was essentially the monster uprising, before he turns to being a PI. I would have loved to see a little more about the Night War, but ultimately, it's not important to the story, and the reader knows all they really need to know about it. (Do I smell prequel? Just a suggestion; I'd read it.)

We're taken along for the ride with Nick, who is definitely out of his element at times, and it's fun to watch as he tries to figure out ways to get himself out of whatever mess he'd gotten himself into. (There is a lot of running involved, and also some slime.) The story takes a lot of twists and turns and I definitely did not predict the ending. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments, particularly regarding the group of monsters who haunt Nick's doorstep at night, hoping to turn him into one of them. There's also a very appropriately named wendigo who appears for like, one page, but which had me kicking my feet in glee. (Never let it be said that extremely minor characters can't make an impression!)

I really enjoyed reading this one. It was hilarious, and very fast paced, which makes it a tough one to put down.
Profile Image for Don Sloan.
Author 9 books9 followers
October 1, 2015
"The man knocking on the outside of my office window had the head of a fly. I sighed. Not another one."

So begins the thoroughly offbeat and wildly entertaining murder mystery set in a comically dystopian Los Angeles, sometime after World War 2. Humans are decidedly in the minority in the City of Angels. Monsters of every kind are in the majority, and being anywhere but barricaded in his home at night is not an option for private investigator Nick Moss.

The hard-bitten P.I. has been retained by beautiful shapeshifter Imogen Verity -- a movie star who can literally become any character she likes at the drop of a hat -- to find her husband, City Councilman Juba II. Police have tagged her as a likely suspect, but Moss isn't so sure.

He visits opera diva Aria Enchantee, a phantom of some renown who was rumored to have been having an affair with the councilman. "With me?" she says showing surprise. But, Moss thinks, maybe her startled expression is simply the result of having no eyelids.

Werewolves, banshees, goblins and every other monster you can think of are members of the unlikely ensemble of supporting players in this story. But it's all in good, scary fun -- until two werewolves who also happen to be Sheriff's Deputies threaten to turn Moss into a werewolf like them unless he cooperates with their investigation. He redoubles his efforts.

The trail leads to the monster version of a bawdy house -- humans aren't allowed, so Moss has to go incognito -- and a disturbing event takes place, eliminating one of the suspects. Shaken, but undeterred, Moss resumes the hunt.

He finds himself being forced to run with a pack of wolves, then has an exhausted breakfast with a witch who may have a lead. Later, he accepts a ride back to his house on her broom, trying to put the few puzzle pieces he's managed to gather together, then drives over to the studio for a word with his client. A monster guard fronts the main gate with grisly authority.

"Ugarth the Castrator sat in his guard booth, stuffing whole live chickens in his mouth. As I pulled up, he crunched down on one. 'What do you want?' he asked me, every word raining a plume of feathers down upon me."

Suffice to say, the story takes more twists and turns than an eel on steroids before finally reaching a satisfying resolution. Getting there is more than half the fun, however, and even dyed-in-the-wool mystery aficionados should find this book stellar, mixing a good whodunit with some outre elements that never lose their novel appeal and entertainment value even over the course of a fairly long read.

In addition, the book is meticulously edited, which made reading it a rare pleasure. City of Devils rates five stars. Download a copy today. You'll be glad you did.
Profile Image for Rosalind Hartmann.
Author 3 books41 followers
July 20, 2013
World War II was only the beginning. When the Night War ravages America, turning it into a country of monsters, humans become a downtrodden minority. Nick Moss is the only human private eye in town, and he’s on the trail of a missing city councilor. With monsters trying to turn him – or, better yet, simply kill him – he’s got to watch his back while trying to find his man. Or mummy, as the case may be.



Once, it was the City of Angels. But now, Los Angeles is the City of Devils…and Nick has a devil of a job to do.



~~

This book was hilarious. Set in post WWII, and apparently after monsters began walking Earth, you have the only human private detective in Los Angeles, trying to earn his cheddar and stay alive. A beautiful dame, because aren’t they all, comes into his office and asks him to find her missing husband. The same husband that the police (made up of werewolves/wolf men) think she murdered. It is as simple as that and kinda not.

Zombies, shape-shifting doppelgangers, pumpkin-heads, gremlins, witches…you name it, it walks the streets trying to turn the surviving humans left on Earth, and while dodging being turned, poor Nick, our trooper of a detective who can’t manage to smoke like a proper detective and is constantly having his manhood questioned, is trying to find a doppelganger actress’ missing mummy husband. He meets a variety of monsters, some helpful, some kinda not, and discovers more than just a mystery behind a missing councilman mummy in a convenient marriage with an illustrious actress.

I enjoyed the main character Nick’s point of view and dialogue – in what could be sometimes drawn out, his hilarious and often ill-timed offended tone breaks up the monotony of what is actually a pretty good, but simple mystery. It did seem to be a little bloated with filler, but I did enjoy reading about Nick and his constant avoidance to being turned into what is slowly becoming the ‘norm’ in the 1950s Hollywood scene. Genuinely interesting, very funny, and detailed for a strange slice of time in a world that is already pretty strange.

I definitely want to read the rest of Justin Robinson’s catalog of books. Giving ‘City of Devils’ a solid 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

~~

Profile Image for Maxine.
1,222 reviews40 followers
August 13, 2013
Nick Moss is the only detective left in Los Angeles; the only human one anyway. Ten years ago, humans lost the Night War to the monsters and humans are relegated to second class citizens. Now, Nick's business consists of missing persons cases. Granted there's no shortage of missing people but most humans just assume their loved one is either dead or turned and don't bother looking.There's a treaty in place which makes it illegal for monsters to kill or turn humans during the day but after dark all bets are off. If a human gets caught outdoors at night, they're fair game.

So when a beautiful monster strolls into his office, Nick is thrown. This is Imogen Verity, one of the best known actresses in Hollywood who can play any role. Not too surprising since, like all actors, she's a doppelganger able to change her appearance whenever she chooses. She's heard about Nick's reputation for finding lost people and she wants to hire him to find her husband, Juba II, a prominent businessman and mummy. At first, Nick is hesitant to get involved:

I'd seen the movie before. Femme fatale saunters into a private dick's office on gams taller than he is, offers him a job, and pretty soon the dick is in dutch up to his eyeballs. As a matter of fact, not only had I seen the movie, but it starred the woman presently looking at me like I was a talking badger. It's why she wore that face around town; it was the one that made her famous.

But what's a red-blooded human male to do when confronted with That Face? He takes the job even though he knows he'll regret it and he regrets his decision pretty darn quickly; the hunt for the missing Mr II puts him in the sights of some of the most powerful monsters in LA and he'll be lucky to make it through the day nevermind after dark.

This urban fantasy noir is a whole lot of fun. There's plenty of action, including a chase through a monster bordello and a phantom biker bar. Fortunately, the story never takes itself too seriously. It's sort of Philip Marlowe meets HP Lovecraft channelling Abbot and Costello and the result is one fun fast read, perfect for when you feel like kicking back with a couple of brewskis and immersing yourself in some pure entertainment.
Profile Image for Gecky Boz.
119 reviews20 followers
October 20, 2016
Devilish Good Time - Here There Be Monsters (that you should read about ASAP)

City of Devils by Justin Robinson

* Provided by Candlemark & Gleam/NetGalley for Review

5 out of 5 gnomes

This book made me smile so much while reading it. I love the noir atmosphere, the plethora of puns, and the myriad of monsters that are seen.

Nick Moss is a human in a world where monsters are the norm and far outnumber humans. He also happens to be the only human Private Investigator and the actual police force consists only of werewolves or wolfmen. This essentially means that it’s hard out there for a human.

The story takes place after two wars the one with Germany and The Night War, the war the humans didn’t win. The Night War led the the monsters overtaking everything. The setting really makes the story shine, well that and the great supporting characters. If you’re a fan of noir detective books or books about monsters that are fun/scary then this is a book that you should check out ASAP.

Things get very interesting when a client wants him to find her husband. This client is a doppleganger movie star and puts Nick in the middle of a lot of trouble with some important monsters. He seems to be a magnet for trouble but also great at figuring ways out of these predicaments.

It’s awesome to see all the different ways to scare off the monsters and how each of these monsters works. I also thought that it was pretty ingenious how these monsters actually do need humans and the reason why they need them. Monsters trying to recruit in the human neighborhood after dark made for some really funny lines especially from Sam the Pumpkinhead who’s determined to turn Nick into one of his kind.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say, Go for the monsters and stay for the mystery which is full of some delicious twists and turns where just about anybody could be the bad guy.
Profile Image for BookLoversLife.
1,801 reviews9 followers
August 23, 2017
This is the story of the last human private eye living in the City of Devils, formally the City of Angels. Since the Night War, the world is overrun with every sort of monster you can think of, and some you can't!! During the day the treaty protects what little humans are left, but once night falls you are fair game! Nick Moss is just trying to live his life as a private eye, working during the day and getting home before dark because there are things that want to turn him. Things change for Nick when he is given the job of finding a missing Councilor. His wife, who is a shapeshifter, wants her husband found, he is a mummy, all the while Nick has werewolves, robots, octopuses, pumpkin heads, eyeballs and everything in between trying to either turn him or eat him!!

I loved this!! Such a pleasant surprise!!! The world the author created was seriously awesome!!! This is packed full of action, adventure, laughs, chills and is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously!

The plot was brilliant! It's essentially a mystery but has so much to it that it made it extremely easy to get into. I wasn't too sure what to expect but what I got was and amazingly crafted story filled with so many supernatural creatures that it was impossible to put down.

The characters too were well developed. I loved Nick. He was a hoot to read and I was rooting for him throughout. I loved all the different species and loved getting to know them. The robot was funny!! Exterminate all humans!! The wolf police were an awesome touch too. There is pretty much nothing I didn't like about this and highly recommend it!!

In all, a fun, energetic and brilliant read and I can not wait to see what else this author has out!

I received this for review. This in no way influenced or affected my thoughts.
9 reviews
December 8, 2013
What's it like being one of the last humans living in a city filled with monsters? Well, you could ask Nick Moss, but he'd probably be too busy dodging phantoms, werewolves, gremlins, crawling eyes, and friendly pumpkinheads to answer you. In City of Devils, Robinson uses his considerable knowledge of both classic monsters and classic noir to create an intricate and engrossing (and at times, hilarious) tale of trying to make your way in the big city. Owing as much to H.P. Lovecraft and Universal Monsters as to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler or Walter Mosley, you might think of this as a worthy literary successor to the criminally underrated Cast a Deadly Spell.

Like Easy Rawlins (but with much better home security), Moss deftly tries to solve a complicated case while always remaining mindful of his status as a second-class citizen and all the dangers and complications inherent therein. As with a lot of the best science fiction/fantasy, there is a good deal of metaphorical/allegorical social commentary, but it’s never heavy handed (think later original Star Trek) or gets in the way of what’s a very funny tale that never takes itself too seriously.

As an extra bonus, the artwork in this book is absolutely amazing and really adds a lot to the overall experience of drawing you into this world.

With every new work, Robinson continues to impress me and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Profile Image for Paul Harmon.
227 reviews27 followers
January 15, 2014
My review is subjective its a good book that didnt click for me, most who check it out will enjoy it I believe.

City of Devils is Detective Noir, Humor and classic horror monsters set in an alternate post WWII Los Angeles that has seen the world more or less run by every possible movie monster and trope you can think of and using humans for entertainment and surrogate children.

Detective Nick Moss takes a case from a famous Hollywood actress/Doppelganger to find her missing Mummy husband.

It's a shame that this book is kind of wasted on me. As I have trouble with humor as I dont find what most find funny to be at all. I never understood how people could stand Seinfeld or could laugh at the inanity of Jim Carey, Austin Powers, Jackass, Anchorman, Borat, or the litany of skinny black men dressed as fat black women ...Sorry I just don't get it.

This book is much more intelligent and well written than any of those and probably a lot funnier but again it was lost on my sense of humor. Some folks will find this right in their wheelhouse and a perfect comedy cocktail of wit and silly set pieces and I would get why you like it so don't avoid this because I wasn't amused.

In actuality I found myself through most of the book feeling like I was reading Roger Rabbit except with monsters instead of toons.
1,055 reviews5 followers
December 14, 2013
Los Angeles in the fifties was a great era for classic detective tales. Justin Robinson puts Nick Moss in a weird version of that era, a City of Devils (trade from Candlemark & Gleam) run by every monster possible and where humans are a small minority. The actors in Hollywood are all doppelgangers, The directors are mad robots and huge evil eyes. The cops are all werewolves and witches fly over the light traffic. Humans are only safe by treaty during the day, and Nick finds lost human children, usually converted to monster. Then a big star is accused of killing her mummy husband, a Hollywood mover and shaker and she wants a human detective to either find her husband or prove she didn’t do it. This involves sneaking past the ogre guarding the gate of the movie studio, and invading a monster bordello in the middle of the night. Nick may carry a full paraphernalia of monster warding objects like wolfbane for the werewolves, a cross for vampires, silver bullets, and a mirror for the doppelganger, but its never enough and only quick wits and a willingness to run keeps Nick alive and human. Yes this is as much fun as it sounds. Review printed in the Philadelphia Weekly Press
Profile Image for Leila.
31 reviews
July 8, 2013
This is my favorite of Robinson's novels so far. There's something about the tone and the characters that I really get into. Also, and although I like his other novels, this one feels most "comfortable" for him as an author, in terms of the voice and style.

I heartily recommend this for fans of humor and monsters alike. One of my favorite characters in this novel has a pumpkin for a head, and a very special relationship with the protagonist.

I haven't read anything else like this before, and I love the unique touches to every monster that makes an appearance. Lore and mythology are wrapped up so nicely with a hollywood bow on top; each character that's introduced makes me wish that I could read a separate book on each variation of creature.

Another thing I like about this protagonist (and most of his characters, honestly) is that he never feels like a Mary Sue. He's never the most handsome, or the most skilled or clever. And although he has his fair share of admirers in this novel, you'll be pleased to discover the twist that explains why.

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
66 reviews18 followers
January 27, 2016
This is one of those books that I wish I had stumbled upon once several sequels had been written - so I could just skip on to the next one.

It manages to be noir and funny at the same time, which is a pretty impressive feat.

I'd classify it as paranormal detective - although the main character is a Private Investigator, he is a human working in a city filled mostly with monsters. Monsters who are trying to convert him.

By the end of the book, I was very comfortable with this world - it's easy to sink into and become familiar with. I was particularly impressed with the word pictures - it was surprisingly easy to imagine shapeshifters and mummies and zombies as neighbourhood residents.

The writing is light and easy and flows by quickly. I read it in about a day.

The plot is twisty enought to keep you guessing, and the cast of characters is varied and interesting. Some of them are quite endearing, actually.

All in all, I'm looking forward to reading the next installment. I hope that's sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Michelle.
31 reviews4 followers
August 11, 2016
Nick Moss is the last human private eye in a Los Angles run amuck with monsters. When a mummy politician goes missing, his beautiful doppelganger wife becomes the prime suspect, and it’s up to Moss to prove her innocence. Nick soon finds himself embroiled in the sordid world of corrupt werewolves, Hollywood big-shots and monster snuff films in this LA noir who-done-it.

City of Devils by Justin Robinson is utterly bizarre and a real hoot. Written in noir speak, it’s straight camp, which makes the absurdity of it work so well. Overflowing with wise cracks and characters with names like Phil Mooney and Lou Garou, it’s full of cleverness, puns, and of course, plot twists.

There’s a monster’s version of a bordello, biker phantoms with pompadours, and a trio of witch lounge singers. So close to Halloween, this book is great for some quick reading fun and to get you in the mood for the season.
Profile Image for Penny.
230 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2013
Robinson has a particular gift for sliding serious topics subtly into a fantastical and thrilling tale such that they never become heavyhanded or intrude upon the story. As with X-Men and Homestuck, the stories stand on their own but if you want to look deeper, there is wonderful critical discussion to be had. This is perhaps particularly true of City of Devils, where the only human private detective in an alternate Los Angeles dominated by the denizens of monster movies takes a case from a beautiful dame and finds himself in deeper than he had ever expected. Robinson manages to deliver a dark and twisted noir plot that is fresh and even funny, to discuss inequality using 50s Hollywood monsters, and to make you turn the pages faster than you can guess what he's up to.
Profile Image for Drew.
1,569 reviews499 followers
September 12, 2013
If I hadn't wanted to get this review out in time for the book's publication (Sept. 24), it would've been a fitting October read - fast, funny, full of monsters and frights and new riffs on age-old themes. I like the world that Robinson has set up and I like Nick Moss - and while things felt a bit like a Hollywood lot at times (lots of lights on the facade, but no house behind it), I was happy to let the story rush over me instead of focusing too hard on anything in particular. There's a lot happening here, in a world-view sense, and it's to Robinson's credit that things hang together as well as they do. It's a fun take that nobody's ever done before and that alone makes it a worthwhile read for fans of the genres at hand.

Full review TK (on 9/16) at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-Ol
Profile Image for CJ Jones.
348 reviews19 followers
February 14, 2016
Between this and second season Peggy Carter, it seems like everybody's nicking my idea for 'Ar Noir'--the bomb brings something scary and supernatural into the world. This is your book if you've been looking for a 'hard boiled dick tries to avoid being eaten' story. Moss, our shamus in residence, works Los Angeles after the Night Wars that humanity fought with monsters soon after WWII. The good guys didn't win this fight. Humans are the underpowered minority in the City now, which makes investigating a murder among the bigwig monster politicians and fabulous monster moviestars that much trickier. That hits several of my sweet spots, and if it does yours then I encourage you to pick up this well written, well paced paean to dark alleys, grey hats, and twisted plots. Also Pumpkinheads.
Profile Image for L.
120 reviews9 followers
October 10, 2013
Robinson offers a fun, readable gumshoe who's hard on bad citizens, not hard-hearted. In the alternate historical LA/Hollywoodland, you'll encounter covens, wolf packs, gremlins, ogres, brainiacs, phantoms, robots, gil-men, crawling eyes, doppelgangers, flaming pumpkinheads, and the human minority. Nick Moss is the pleasant, mild-mannered, humane protagonist as we slink through a noir tale of disappearance, abduction, prostitution (but not really, insists Mary), and murder. But his gloves come off and the silver, wolfsbane, and allward fly if something pushes him too far. Don't miss the bonus newspaper "Personals" section. Definite Oct beach read.
3 reviews
December 15, 2013
I'm a tough person to make sit down and read a book. My looking forward to picking it back up every chance I got to get further in the story should say something about the content. I mean, who doesn't like classic movie monsters living in what we call Los Angeles going about their daily (or nightly) lives, do normal jobs, and attacking humans at night? Now roll this whole world up into a detective novel and you've got a fun concept. I HIGHLY recommend this book. I can't wait to get started on other books from the author.
Profile Image for Melissa.
466 reviews10 followers
January 13, 2014
I won this book, and I'm really glad I did because it's probably not a book I would have picked up on my own (not a big mystery fan). Anyway, this book was tons of fun to read. I loved the descriptions of all the monsters and the different kinds of jobs they had. My only complaint was that I kept getting distracted with wondering what kind of monster I would want to be turned to (probably a witch, but maybe a doppleganger? I'm with Nick on the pumpkinheads though, definitely wouldn't want to be one).
18 reviews
April 17, 2014
Excellently twisted and shows off Justin's intellect, writing skills, and overly full imagination. As with Mr. Blank this deserved a reread to catch all the twists and try to keep up with the author's mind.
The only critique we (I and my boyfriend) had about this story is the unlimited array of monsters, which threatened on confusing (but didn't quite become so) and was just a bit overwhelming. But I can see that it is part of the premise, so can see the argument I favor of widening the scope so much.
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