A Devil in the Details
K.A. Stewart
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Buy *A Devil in the Details: A Jesse James Dawson Novel* by K.A. Stewart

A Devil in the Details: A Jesse James Dawson Novel
K.A. Stewart
320 pages
July 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Jesse James Dawson is a modern-day samurai and a Champion. When someone has sold his or her soul to a demon in exchange for something, Jesse can fight that demon and get the soul back. Even though it seems that a lot of people have made deals with demons, most people are not aware that the demons exist.

The Champions live all around the world. However, these days they have been organized into a loose network. Ivan Zelenko from Ukraine is the oldest champion and he has organized the network. They keep in touch through phone and a website. Ivan is a father figure to the others who speaks with a very strong accent.

Since Jesse has to put his own soul down as collateral, he chooses the people he helps. While he is very good with a katana, he does not have any magical skills or powers, which is a big disadvantage. Fortunately, his wife is a witch and she can do minor protective spells. Jesse manages to defeat his latest opponent but is badly hurt. Even after three weeks in the hospital, he is still not up to his usual fighting prowess. Then a prospective client contacts him, and Jesse is disheartened to find out that the client is baseball star Nelson Kidd. Jesse agrees to the contract, and they summon the demon which holds Kidd's soul. Jesse and the demon strike up a detailed contract of the time and place they will fight over Kidd's--and Jesse's--soul. Then Jesse finds out that two other Champions are missing and possibly dead. Someone seems to be targeting them--and one of the missing Champions, Miguel, is Jesse's friend. .

Unlike most urban fantasy heroes, Jesse is happily married and has a five-year-old daughter. He also works part-time in an IT store where he is the oldest employee, and the others call him ”Old Dude”. He follows the Bushido, the way of the warrior, and tries to be an honorable man. While his narration has a humorous style, he does not use sarcasm much. He also has to think about what is best for his family. He does not have any magical healing powers, either, so healing from fights or accidents takes time that he can't always afford.

The cast of characters is charming. Jesse's wife, Mira, has had to accept that Jesse is often in danger and helps him with protective spells. She has a full-time job and often has to do the housework, too. Their daughter, Annabelle, is a typical child who makes a mess and needs looking after. Jesse also has a “personal” demon, Axel, whose job is to tempt Jesse into a deal. Axel can possess small animals and speak through them. Axel and Jesse have an ongoing chess game.

A couple of Jesse's friends know about his supernatural activities but have never met a demon. Jesse is determined to keep things that way. His best friend, Will, is an EMT who patches him up after a fight and drives him to the hospital when needed. He seems to be very interested in the supernatural and thinks Jesse is a great fighter. Marty maintains and makes Jesse's weapons and armor. He's very proud of his work and would like Jesse to keep it spotless.

The narrative is a little repetitive at times, and (especially near the end) there is a lot of telling instead of showing. The ending wraps up the main plot but leaves a subplot open.

A Devil in the Details features few fight scenes, and the pace is not very quick. This fits the story and Jesse's character but unfortunately makes it easy to put the book down. The story focuses on Jesse's everyday life with his family and money and health troubles more than epic fights.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Mervi Hamalainen, 2012

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