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Book review: 'The Devils Only Friend' is complicated, uncomfortable and full of twists
"The Devil's Only Friend" is by Dan Wells and the fourth book in his John Cleaver series. - photo by Herb Scribner
"THE DEVIL'S ONLY FRIEND: John Cleaver series No. 4," by Dan Wells, Tor Books, $25.99, 304 pages (f)

The Devils Only Friend may want readers to think sometimes even the darkest people alive need company.

But in the end, it may be best to work alone.

In Dan Wells fourth installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, the young teenager from a middle-of-nowhere town with a thirst for murdering demons also known as the Withered and Gifted is back. This time, John is joined by a team of FBI agents whose sole mission is to kill these demons.

At points, The Devils Only Friend is on par and even better than the original three novels because of its imagery and its vivid storytelling and feeling in the middle of the action. Its a book readers will likely have a hard time putting down as they race with John to the chilling climax.

However, the premise doesnt quite live up to its potential. Johns decision to work with FBI agents creates a story filled with so many characters, storylines and plot twists that it offers a mixed bag of storytelling.

John is surrounded by too many supporting characters who readers arent asked to care about nor should they. The characters are cruel to John, whos something of a wunderkind since he solved so many murder mysteries before becoming an adult, and its hard to keep track of each characters motivations. This is especially jarring since the first three novels of this series give focused attention to a select few characters.

It helps that some of the first three books characters are brought up like Johns ex-girlfriend Marci, Johns mom and even some of the past villains since they help create some sympathy for John and his life.

Though the book is a quick read, some of the dialogue may trip up readers. There is twist after twist within the final few pages giving an ending thats more like Thanksgiving dinner than a regular meal. Part of this is because several characters in the first half of the book have their own conclusions whether thats through death, a twist or an exit of some kind.

The conclusion is, unfortunately, a brief teaser of whats to come next in Wells series, and its almost a rushed afterthought. The previous books endings had a point and a developed next step not a throwaway line that directly points to the next book.

Still, it is another thrilling adventure of John Cleaver.

Like he says throughout the book, John works best on his own.

The Devils Only Friend contains some mild language, no sexual content and some generally described violence, much of which happens offstage, including murders and several fights.