From the very first sentence of The Devil’s Lieutenant, I felt I was in the hands of a skilled writer, and I was fully captivated. Shervin Jamali did not disappoint me for even a moment. His opening bid is steeped in the dark, lamp-lit, foggy nights of a Raymond Chandler mystery and you can practically taste the whiskey-soaked breath of the narrator, Michael. Jamali swiftly moves you from the moment Michael’s life is irrevocably changed on to his deepening demise.
When Michael meets the enigmatic, Lucifer, the dialogue sparkles with electricity and wit. From there the story takes flight. Imagine for a moment what it takes for a writer to tackle a tale about the battle for an embittered soul of a damaged man; a gruff cop who has lost his purpose and meaning in life. Jamali’s characters are well-drawn, psychologically complex and deeply human. By rights, we might despise Michael’s descent into indecency, but instead, we care about him and the losses that fuel his quest for redemption; even if it is not his own. Who can resist a tough cop, who has lived amongst the underbelly of society, yet loves his son and wife with all the innocence and intensity of a teenager’s first love. Jamali expertly crafts a tight story here, with every layer critically thought out. Though in one passage he may stretch the limits of believability when Michael drags a corpse through miles of ocean to reach the shore, I was so enchanted with the story I easily flowed back into the rhythms of his words.
Jamali choreographs a tightly woven dance between Michael and Lucifer with a shoulder tap from a God, to break up the two-step. I won’t give away what happens.The relationship between Michael and Lucifer is the most compelling part of the novel for me. Their exchanges are clever, highlighting the unwavering cold intelligence of Lucifer and the angry, petulance of Michael, who never fails to reach for another drink to dull the pain of his intolerable life. The novella comes with a warning that there is profanity and violence, but it emerges organically from the story; never drawing attention to itself for its own sake. I didn’t know about Shervin Jamali before I picked up this book, but I’ve become a fan and I’m looking forward to what is next from him.
Cindy Stone is an author, registered psychotherapist/hypnotherapist, internal martial artist. Her new novel, Scorpion from The Myriad Series, is an epic adventure about the empowerment of a young woman who learns internal martial arts from the man who saves her when she is pushed into an oncoming subway train from a crowded platform. You can visit Cindy at https://cindystoneauthor.com. Her new book Scorpion – Book One of The Myriad Series is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo.