Mr. Matt's Reviews > The Long Way Down

The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2014, fantasy-urban

Daniel Faust is not a good man. He's not a bad man either. He's somewhere in between. He's a Vegas magician who is a little bit different from other Vegas magicians. He can actually perform real magic. He uses his powers to run scams, cheat people around the edges, and do some odd jobs as a private detective. When he's asked to investigate the death of a young woman, everything goes to hell.

I liked this book. A lot. Going in my expectations were very low. It was cheap on Amazon, I liked the cover, and it sounded like a decent premise, so I picked it up. I am very glad that I did. It starts with the ambiguity of the book. Yes, the bad guys are pretty villainous, but the core characters are not the "good" guys in this story. They are all shades of grey. This is, I think, closer to reality than many of the books that I read.

Faust epitomizes this ambiguity. He is a complex, well done character. Insightful, and often funny, he was an interesting character to follow through the story. That being said, I like his style, his sense of justice. When he finds out what really happened to this girl, he is furious. ("Tony Vance was going to answer for what he'd done. Not to the cops, not to God. He was going to answer to me.") I like complex characters.

And then there are unexpected plot twists. Yes, Faust does track down the truth behind the girl's fate. And, frankly, the story could have ended there. It would've made a neat little short story. It's only after he scratches at the initial mystery that the real action emerges. Like a magician, the author had my eyes were fixed over here, while the real action was going on over there. When I finally saw it, I was caught off guard and very, very entertained.

The book wasn't perfect, and, frankly, I struggled with giving the book a five star rating. (Spoiler alert). My problem with the story comes down to a logic problem with the world that the author created. In it there are demons and all sorts of magical creatures (thankfully no fairies that I'm aware of). One of those demons winds up being Faust's girlfriend. Now, I'm willing to buy into the author's vision of kinder, gentler demons, but I still a little bit of a problem when demons lecture about respecting demonic law ("I want you to think about what happens when people rebel against the law.") Aren't they all demons because they refused to obey the law in the first place? And Caitlin, Faust's girlfriend, alternates between being a blushing school girl (when she and Faust are initially feeling one another out), a kindly aunt (when lecturing her friend's daughter), and, finally, a complete murdering sadist when dishing out justice. I had a hard time buying all of those together.

Four and a half stars rounded up to five. Despite it's flaws, the book was loads of fun. It was really the best urban fantasy book I think I've read in a long time - great story, nice plot twists, interesting main character, unique setting. If I had the option, this definitely would've gotten the half star from me, but on Goodreads this was one of those books that I felt deserved the bump up to five.

Knocked down to 4 stars on reflection. Still a fun read.
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Reading Progress

July 8, 2014 – Started Reading
July 8, 2014 – Shelved
July 14, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
July 14, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy-urban
July 14, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard Nice review Matt


Mr. Matt Thanks, Richard. I love picking up a book with zero expectations and having those low expectations greatly exceeded.


message 3: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard Yeah it's great when that happens. Normally it's the other way round with me and I build a book up for ages and then disappoint myself when it doesn't go as I hoped. The Girl with all the Gifts was this years surprise from nowhere for me, might have to look at this in the future though


message 4: by David Sven (new)

David Sven Great review Matt!


Mr. Matt Thanks David!


Noelle Daniel -is- a good man. He's just not a nice one. He does the right thing. Most of the time.


Mr. Matt Noelle wrote: "Daniel -is- a good man. He's just not a nice one. He does the right thing. Most of the time."

He's definitely not a straight-edge! I like his ambiguity.


Noelle What is right is not always socially acceptable. I keep thinking of Aesop's fable of the mouse and the lion... Yes, that apex predator from an alternate dimension can rip my face off, but it's just -wrong- to abuse other living things. So I'll set her free. Maybe she won't eat me.

Right action. Not socially acceptable.


Mr. Matt Noelle wrote: "What is right is not always socially acceptable. I keep thinking of Aesop's fable of the mouse and the lion... Yes, that apex predator from an alternate dimension can rip my face off, but it's ju..."

I hear you, but Faust is also portrayed as a man with an unscrupulous past. As I recall, he's done some things that he is not proud of. And he still cheats at cards. Now, of course, he does try to do the right thing. He's been changed. I just don't think that he is a clear cut character. There's complexity there. And I like that. I like characters that have that depth. I think it makes him more real.


Noelle We all do things we aren't proud of, but you must also remember that it was the penitent thief who was taken up by Christ. :)

Daniel is penitent - otherwise he would not have turned his back on his previous life and started choosing right action over convenience.


carol. Good review. Very readable book, and agree that Caut might be the only problematic aspect.


Noelle Re: demonic laws

All societies have structure. Even Drow have laws that are, admittedly, observed in the breach rather than the observation... A Lawful Evil entity will obey societal constructs inasmuch as it benefits them. So demon laws would be necessarily structured to appeal to a sense of enlightened self-interest...and the Chaotic Evil elements would suffer the consequences.

Lucifer and the third part of the host of heaven refused to kneel before mankind, so their sin was a refusal to be seen as anything less than equal, a refusal to be subservient to another sentient and sapient being. Is that really a sin? Haven't we outlawed that very concept?

Food for thought. ;)

Also, as a mere mortal woman, I can be the blushing schoolgirl (see my profile picture), the compassionate aunt/mother figure (just ask my four "daughters"), and the face-eating avatar of justice without compromising my personal ethics. Somehow I missed that point of contention re: Caitlin. So her many facets made her more real to me and far more well-rounded than most female characters in urban fantasy...or literature as a whole.


Mr. Matt Carol. wrote: "Good review. Very readable book, and agree that Caut might be the only problematic aspect."

Glad you liked! The series is pretty good.


Mr. Matt Noelle wrote: "Re: demonic laws

All societies have structure. Even Drow have laws that are, admittedly, observed in the breach rather than the observation... A Lawful Evil entity will obey societal constructs in..."


I can see that. Very good points.


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