Thursday, December 12, 2013

Take a Walk on the Dark Side

There are days in life where everything falls into place and all is good.  But then some days it all seems to crumble at our feet.  It's in those moments when the &%#@ hits the fan that we find out who we really are - when we take a walk on the dark side.

Join me in that walk today as we explore Scott Lerner's Ruler of Demons.

Book Summary:
Only eleven shopping days till Christmas. And less than a week to save the world.

Three nuns—in Chicago, Paris, and Jerusalem—have been killed in a religious ritual. The choice of victims and the macabre details of their deaths indicate that someone is following a recipe provided on an ancient text—a recipe to unleash the forces of hell on earth. The final sacrifice must occur on the Winter Solstice.

Samuel Roberts, a small-town attorney in Urbana, Illinois, knows a bit about the supernatural, having triumphed at least once over the forces of evil. Thanks to a friend who is aware of Sam’s little known previous efforts on behalf of mankind, Sam is hired by a big Chicago law firm to take on a sensitive case. His mission? Nothing less than halting the impending apocalypse.

Sam and his good buddy Bob travel first to Jerusalem then Paris in a desperate race to save mankind.

My Review:
Ruler of Demons was fast-paced, full of dry humor and took me on a whirlwind tour through Chicago to Israel and then France.

Sam Roberts takes a very light view of life.  As an attorney, he's not out pounding the pavement searching for his next client.  Circumstances - I'm assuming from the previous book, which I did not read - have allowed him to relax and not worry so much about how he's going to pay the bills.  And he takes advantage of that.

Until he's offered a very unusual case by a large, well-financed firm.  The harried friend who works at said firm urges him to leave the case alone.  But Sam is intrigued - or has a death wish.  So after meeting with Alexy Smart, the last surviving founder of the firm, and official representatives of the Catholic Church and witnessing first-hand the human flesh scroll authored by the Prince of Darkness, Sam decides to accept the case.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt matters that someone left him a human tongue on his kitchen table.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about this book.  Dry humor isn't my forte, but I found the beginning to be intriguing and it pulled me into the story.  I was curious about the deaths of the nuns and how it all tied together.  I like a book that makes me think and surprises me.

Unfortunately I discovered few surprises here.  As usual, the priests, church, and military personnel were easy targets to spot early on, as they are utilized as the "bad guys" throughout so many novels these days.  I'd actually hoped to be surprised that maybe they were going to be the red-herrings but was disappointed to find this wasn't the case.  Plus Sam internalizes over and over again throughout the story how he doesn't believe in God/religion, which presents quite the dichotomy since he's dealing with demonic and supernatural forces here.  Logic says if there is evil then there must be good.  I don't mind an agnostic or atheistic character, but the fact that it gets brought up constantly leaves nothing to guess who the baddies are going after.  All-in-all these factors made it just too darn easy to figure out and left nothing to guess.

Then there are the travel moments.  I was looking forward to Sam and Bob's visit to Jerusalem and the dig site, but it felt like they were in and out so quickly, I as the reader didn't get to experience "being there" or anything.  Same thing with their jump over to France.  Yes, it answered some questions in the overall story and fit some puzzle pieces together, but it was like "poof" they're in and then "poof" they're out.

The story also lacked any real emotional connection to the characters or events.  When faced with a demon, Sam and Bob rather brush it off like it is an everyday occurrance and no big deal.  There was no fear or concern.  This also played into lack of internal motivation for why they did anything or went anywhere.  The overall lack of emotion and internal motivation made the characters and the story feel very wooden and somewhat disjointed.

I hate to say it, but after muddling through I felt as if I'd been offered an entire loaf of melba toast with nothing to drink.  It was a struggle for me to finish Ruler of Demons.  But perhaps if you like and understand very dry humor, you might consider checking out the book for yourself.  There were a few moments that offered up a chuckle even to someone like me.

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Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 202
ISBN: 9781603819053
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: December 15, 2013

Amazon buy link:

Author Bio:

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction, and going to the movies. His first novel, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards.

Check out his website and for a taste of his writing, check out the excerpt

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  1. D A, thanks for reading and reviewing Scott's book!

  2. The review tells me I am in for an interesting read.