The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells (John Cleaver book No.4)

The Devil’s Only Friend is the first in a new Trilogy starring John Wayne Cleaver.  There have apparently been three earlier books but The Devil’s Only Friend can be read as a standalone and indeed it’s not difficult to pick up on what took place previously.  Having said that I really enjoyed this and to a cetain extent wish I had picked up the previous books, even though I admit that I probably won’t do so now, but just purely from a character development perspective.

In The Devil’s Only Friend John is now working with the FBI.  His prior experiences dealing with, and by that I mean killing, demons (or the withered as they’re called here) make him a necessary part of the team.  He’s not completely trusted by his colleagues of course, and let’s face it that’s hardly a surprise given his personality.  John definitely suffers from an antisocial personality disorder – I would say that he is a sociopath (or maybe even a psychopath)?? and maybe his backstory would have been a bit more definitive in that respect.  For now I’m going with sociopath.  He fantasises, in a fairly calculated manner, about killing people and animals and he seems to have a set of rules by which he keeps his tendencies under control – including counting sequences.  Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The world we’re dealing with here is a modern, everyday setting, the difference being that demons live amongst the humans.  They, for the most part, look human and integrate into society.  They’re very strong and dangerous though and for the purpose of this story they’re called the withered – because they lack something, something that they need in order to survive and something that they usually have to take, forcibly, from others.  John’s role here is to find out what that special ‘something’ is in each particular case so that the FBI can, in as carefully controlled and safe a setting as possible, kill the withered they’re currently tracking.  Now, the FBI, may finally be aware of the withered but that doesn’t mean that there doesn’t exist a LOT of doubt and skepticism and the team John works with is relatively understaffed and under resourced as a result.  A situation which isn’t going to help when the enemy becomes aware of their existence and decides to bring the war to them instead of remaining as sitting ducks.

I thought this was a really good read.  When I first picked it up I wasn’t sure if it would all be horror and whilst there is horror involved this is a bit deeper than that.  We of course have the withered – but these creatures are not simply evil – they’re driven themselves by whatever it is they lack.  Then we have John, and it’s difficult to really know yet whether I really like him or not as some of his internal thoughts are frankly a bit scary, who suffers from his own personality disorder and would be considered to be damaged or maybe even missing something fundamental to human nature himself.

There are a number of characters involved, none of them are really particularly well expanded upon – and I don’t mean that in a negative way but just more that they play a lesser role that John – and I will also just mention that the author is fairly ruthless with his cast so you might want to bear that in mind.

The one constant in John’s life, carried forward from his past experiences is Brooke – a previous friend/girl next door who has rather unfortunately become the hidden weapon in John and the FBI’s arsenal against the withered.  I won’t go too much into that other than to say she is an interesting character to read and I would enjoy more involvement from her.

The Devil’s Only Friends was a great start to this new series.  Part murder mystery, part horror, part psychological thriller with an unusual main protagonist.  I’m definitely interested in seeing how John develops.  Like I say, I’m not sure what to feel about him just yet although, in spite of his inner turmoil, he’s clearly not all bad and at least wants to be ‘better’.

I will definitely read on with this series.

I received a copy of this from the publishers via Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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13 Responses to “The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells (John Cleaver book No.4)”

  1. Tammy

    I’ve been intrigued by this cover since I first saw it, and it sounds like the story is pretty good too. I think yours is the first review I’ve read, so thanks for that. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this series!

    • lynnsbooks

      I enjoyed this. Part of me wishes I’d picked up on the earlier trilogy which probably had a lot of back context for the main character but now I’ve started at this point I’ll probably just continue as I already know what the outcomes were. Plus, this can definitely be read without the first three and it’s a new trilogy. John Cleaver is an intriguing character – he’s been likened to Dexter and I can see why in certain terms but this is a different story with a unique feel.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jenclair

    I haven’t read anything by this author, but this sounds interesting!

    • lynnsbooks

      It was good – I will definitely continue with the series.
      Lynn 😀

  3. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    I’ve been wanting to check out the John Cleaver books for a while. I was thinking about picking this one up, because it was a new trilogy in the series, but I just can’t. I always have to stat from book 1, regardless. Specially since in this case, since the main character suffers from mental disorder, I would want to see the them from the beginning of their story.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think it would have been good to read the first trilogy but having now dived in and started at this point I don’t think there’s any going back for me as I already know what happens. If you like to start from the beginning though I’d be interested in your thoughts on that. This was good and can be read as a standalone but to an extent I regret not picking up the first three – I just hadn’t realised at the time that there were other books! Doh!!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I won a copy of this and am really glad to hear it can be read without reading the earlier trilogy

    • lynnsbooks

      I thought it stood up well on it’s own – and it is a new trilogy so the author does give some backstory – but not enough to be tedious. I thought it was quite good. The withered are interesting to read about and the book ends at a good point so I’m keen to see where it goes next.
      Lynn 😀

  5. jessicabookworm

    I am pleased to hear you enjoyed this. I have read two of the previous John Cleaver novels which looked into the stages he went through (starting fires and hurting animals), and rules he started to impose to stop himself. I also remember Brooke so it is nice to hear she is still in the series. I’m now rather interested to start this new series and perhaps finish the last series too.

    • lynnsbooks

      To an extent I wish I’d read the first three, although this is a new trilogy. I think it would have been interesting to have the backstory. This was good and I will continue with this series to see how John develops.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Maybe it was the cover, but it didn’t strike me as the type of story you described at all, but part horror, part mystery and part psychological thriller is actually something I’d really dig! Hmm, now I wish I’d given this a closer look.

    • lynnsbooks

      To be honest I had absolutely no idea what it was about when I requested it which is just plain silly of me. For some reason I thought I’d seen it on a blog and it was one I was looking out for. I wonder if I’d mixed it up because, as I mention, this isn’t the first book – however, it is a new trilogy so can be read alone. I liked it and maybe not realising what it was going to be about was a bonus as I had no preconceptions. It’s been likened to Dexter – but with Demons – and I can sort of see that – but it isn’t the same. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.
      Lynn 😀

  7. June brings tulips, lillies, roses… |

    […] The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells […]

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