Damned Busters

Release Date: 
December 1, 2011
Publisher/Imprint: 
Angry Robot
Pages: 
240
Reviewed by: 

“Not only is the premise of Damned Busters: To Hell and Back, Book 1 unique, the plot keeps you guessing throughout. You are never fully sure what direction it will take. The writing style is dry, tongue-in-cheek—and just this side of snarky. The main characters are three-dimensional, and the supporting cast is fleshed out enough for you to care what happens to them.”

What would happen if Hell went on strike?

Well, according to Matthew Hughes’ new book The Damned Busters, nothing bad . . . and that wouldn’t be good.

It all starts when an introverted actuary inadvertently summons a demon and then refuses to sign the contract for his soul. Would you sign a contract you hadn’t asked for?

But demons and the Devil can be a stubborn lot. One thing leads to another and Chesney Ansthruther (the actuary in question) ends up cutting a non-soul-binding deal with Satan himself that lets Chesney fight crime as a super hero with the help of a demon sidekick. Honestly, as far as deals with the Devil go, Chesney has a pretty good thing going.

Of course, things are never quite what they seem to be. Besides how humorous could a humorous novel be if they were?

The Damned Busters takes you on an imaginative, funny ride through corporate and supernatural politics, with occasional stops in the outer ring of Hell, as Chesney learns the intricacies of super hero crime fighting, the unpredictable twists and turns of feminine psychology, and the best ways to work with and motivate a demon sidekick. (Turns out rum and cigars are good motivators.)

Not only is the premise of Damned Busters: To Hell and Back, Book 1 unique, the plot keeps you guessing throughout. You are never fully sure what direction it will take. The writing style is dry, tongue-in-cheek—and just this side of snarky. The main characters are three-dimensional, and the supporting cast is fleshed out enough for you to care what happens to them.

For those readers who’ve had a less-than-stellar love life, Chesney’s “luck” with the ladies is relatable and fun to tag along with. As he bumbles from one encounter to the other, continuously confused by reactions and not necessarily knowing what to say or when, you can relax and know that at least your love life is more than likely better than that.

Although each character can be traced back to an archetypal cliché in literature, television, and film—from the hard-boiled detective to the wealthy, self-centered “princess” to the less-than-upright televangelist—Mr. Hughes is able to give each one his or her own individual voice, making them transcend the obvious.

Hughes’ strong visual imagery draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. You can almost see the story as a movie playing in your mind . . . especially when Tom Hanks makes a cameo!

The Damned Busters is a fun, entertaining and enjoyable journey into thought-provoking supernatural humor. Like most good comical writing, there is an underlying thread of commentary on what it means to be human. In this case, what is the nature of good and evil? Why is the world the way it is? Mr. Hughes’ theory as presented in this novel is interesting and mildly disturbing, which makes the humor that much more humorous.