Tag Archives: Edgar

Up Next: The Devil Takes You Home

TakesyouhomeThe Devil Takes You Home, nominated by the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best Novel, was written by Gabino Iglesias, an author with writing credits up the wazoo.  Previous books have won awards and his nonfiction is published widely.   Devil, no surprise, provides a unique take on the genre.

Quick summary:  This is a classic heist/one last job plot, with a desperate man willing to go to the edge – and beyond.  Mario’s a petty criminal pushed into becoming a hit man by the cost of treatment for his daughter’s leukemia.  She dies, his wife leaves him, and his friend Brian introduces him to Junca who has a complicated plan to rip off a drug cartel.  They’ll be rich and the cartel will never know it’s them.

What’s great about the book:  Mario is real, and we feel his pain.  Iglesias mixes Spanish in with English in a way that is realistic, but not disruptive to the flow for those of us who don’t speak it.  Characters, for the most part, are 3D.  The action sequences are suspenseful.  And I never saw the twist at the end coming!  Not to give it away too much, Mario’s betrayal of a friend was a set-up from the start.  And its losers all the way around.

What’s not so great:  There is a tremendous amount of violence.  And not dry, noir-esque violence from a distance, but sweat-dripping, bleeding, torturing pain for the innocent and the guilty alike.  A disabled child chopped into pieces over many years.  People fed to the alligators.  Is it effective?  Yes.  Was it hard to read?  Yes.  Would I go see the movie?  Definitely not.

Comparing Devil to The Maid to Notes on an Execution:  Wow, are they different.   All pretty complicated, all very character-driven, and yet the experience for the reader could not be more different.  While the violence put me off, I did find The Devil Takes You Home to be a propulsive read, very hard to put down, and the bleak twist at the end was a “wow.”  This moves it ahead of the fairly dry Notes on an Execution.  Still, there was a lot to love about the unique voice of Molly Gray, and good’s triumph over bad was very fulfilling.  The Maid keeps the top spot, and The Devil slides in at #2 in the Lit Lunchbox rankings.

edgarLiterary Lunchbox Rankings:  Best Novel

  1. The Maid by Nita Prose
  2. The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias
  3. Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka