Poker can lead to a great deal of good things in life, it can also lead to a great deal of bad, but in The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes poker lead to the absence of all sin and the formation of the world’s first super hero duo.
Matthew Hughes, in his first book for Angry Robot publishing, pens the story of Chesney Anstruther: a man who accidently summons a demon while setting up for poker. When he refuses to sell his soul Hell goes on strike. Turn out they have a union and it’s a picky on at that.
With hell on strike, the world is devoid of sin. What could be preserved as a good thing turns out to be bad, very bad. This leads to intense negotiations between Chesney and Satan. The outcome is simple. Chesney can have his heart’s desire. He chooses what every comic book fan would choose. To be a superhero!
A so begins the heroic tale of the Actionary. Armed with any power his heart’s desire and the assistance of a demon, named Xaphan, who speaks and acts like a prohibition mobster, Chesney leaps into the heart of the criminal underworld.
This story is hard to describe and review without giving away the first major spoiler – but I’ll try. This book is basically split into two parts. The first part, the first couple chapters, is like an elongated prologue. It starts with the accidental summoning and ends with a shaking, one not limited to ground or earth.
This is the first part. It seems a little slow at times but it rockets forward after hell goes on strike.
Then we jump into the second part of the book.
Chesney has made a deal with the devil, been assigned Xaphan as his demonic agent, and begins his life of crime fighting. Now at first you wonder how these two belong together. You question why the book took so long to get here and why, after we witnessed a reality shattering spoiler about all of existence, we are suddenly dropped into a pulp novel about a kid living out his geek wet dream.
The pacing slows down as Hughes personal autistic Peter Parker tries to adapt to his new life but it all ties together as the villains are introduced. There everything ties together. The villains exist because of what happened in the ‘prologue.’ Their motivations, their power source, and their villain origins are all because of the Big Spoiler.
Told you it was hard to explain.
Basically the book feels like a major Hollywood movie and the spin-off books that come with it. The ‘Prologue’ is like the Star Wars movies. It exists as its own awesome adventure and it builds the settings. The remainder of The Damned Busters is like a Star Wars novel. It’s is its own adventure and doesn’t need to describe the world over again because we all ready know about it thanks to the movie.
You cant have a Star Wars book without the Star Wars movies.
Told you it as hard to explain.
The book is an insane adventure that messes with your mind and its perceived notions of the world around us. It feels like watching the Matrix when you learn not everything is as it seems. The writing is smart, never once assuming that the reader is an idiot, and the dialogue s brilliant and witty. Despite minor pacing issues, which seem to be easily overlooked as you bask in the post-ending glory, this is a great book that strives to create original material for the geek culture.
It is a brilliant book that should not be missed by fans of superheroes, the matrix and modern fantasy enthusiasts.