The Devil You Know (2016)


A novella about a philosopher who sells his soul to a devil (one of many in hell’s bureaucracy) for a few more years of life and youth. As both the devil and the reader expect from the get-go (the cover text pretty much says the same), the philosopher has a con going on, but what kind of con and what goal it’s aimed at is what keeps this story going. It’s an interesting set-up and Parker mines it for all its worth, leading his audience along while keeping them at arms length about what is really going on.

Most people do like con-men in fiction, but actually what they like are the con men who do it for a higher goal, whereupon most real con men are just assholes who do it for entirely mundane reasons. That’s what makes The Devil You Know so clever, it tells us what it is doing up front and still manages to deceive us in the end.

I can’t say I enjoyed it actually, most people don’t like being conned and while I applaud Parker for what he pulled of here, it’s more grudging admiration on a technical level. I rather doubt I’ll reread this again.

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