I had no idea what to expect from Dark Hope, the first book in HD Smith’s The Devil’s Assistant series. The blurb sounded great … cool concept, murder mystery, and the Devil. But having met the author, also known under the pen name Sloane Savage, I wondered if our main character would be in any real danger because Ms. Smith is just soooo nice.
But not to worry. Her girl Claire was a bad-ass. She was such a cool, big character that I had no trouble believing that she held her own against the Devil and his family tree. She is much more than she knows, and watching her discover all that she is was at times both awesome and heartbreaking.
The overall story was exciting and unique. Not only was it darker than I originally expected, but it never let up. The action started early and kept on going. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator’s performance reinforced the fast pace and high tension. There were no breaks, no quick fixes, and no damsel-in-distress moments. Just one tough situation after another.
And the world Ms. Smith created? Brilliant. It’s vivid and well-populated, with culture and hierarchy and rules. There was a bit of a “Rat-Pack, mob era” Vegas feel, which I appreciated, mixed with some ethereal moments. Made for a dynamic backdrop in which to set these bold, classic characters. The Devil, or The Boss as he’s called in the book, isn’t anything like I imagined. Which ended up making perfect sense because his family tree was even more chaotic and dangerous than he was.
The romance elements were light, but pure in its inclusion. I can’t say much without spoilers, but I’ll admit that this part of the storyline went to completely unexpected places. I can’t even begin to guess what would happen next. And I love that!
I’ll definitely be continuing with the series. Probably in audiobook form since Lauren Fortgang, the narrator, did such a great job with book 1. The in-the-moment thoughts and feelings are still with me days later.