The Devil in Her Way – Bill Loehfelm

The Devil in Her Way chillingly starts with a quote from Mary Shelley :

I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe.  If I cannot satisfy the one. I will indulge the other.

Having not read any Bill Loehfelm before “The Devil in Her Way” I asked a friend that reads a lot of suspense if she had heard of him, she hadn’t.  When I began to describe the main female character (In fact that is how I got – female protagonist) – she rolled her eyes and went on to say how bored she got reading suspense where a 98 pound 5″2 woman takes down 30 men without a bruise and solves the mystery in no time.  I said “It’s not like that at all”.

Maureen Coughlin was first introduced in “The Devil She Knows”.  When the book starts she is late 20’s year old waitress who has made a number of probably not the best choices.  She witnesses an event, the bad guy goes after her (and since I have yet to fully read the book and wouldn’t want to add a spoiler) bad stuff happens and she decides to become a cop.

The Devil in Her Way begins when she has graduated as a fully fledged police officer and joins the New Orleans PD.  One of the sub-themes of the book is how the effects of Hurricane Katrina is still affecting New Orleans and it is interesting to see from an outsider’s perspective.

“The scale of what happened in New Orleans, though, a loss like that hitting a whole city at once, a city bleeding out like a murder victim with her throat cut, going empty of people first in a flood then in a trickle, that was  a hard thing for her to get her mind around. Even those times her life had changed overnight, she’d at least awoken in the same bed in the same city the next morning, with her people, few in number as they may have been surrounding her. (68)

“New Orleans was like some bizarre cross between the third world, Maureen thought, and an enlightened civilization that had advanced beyond ordinary American worries.  And here she was in the middle of it, gun on her belt, badge on her chest.  Sweating her ass off.” (82)

As I said, to my friend, Maureen Coughlin is not this waif that gets out of trouble scot free…she is also not a 6″2 body builder.  She is just a very real sort of woman (believably woman, hats off Bill).  What gives this book 4 stars for me is not only the tight suspense filled story line, but the writing.

Towards the end of the book her commanding officer notes : “But you, you’re special.  Your heart’s gonna get crushed into a thousand tiny sparkly little shards.  And then the city’s gonna force feed you the wreckage and then laugh at you while you cough it back up.  It won’t hold your hair back for you while you’re hanging over the bowl, neither.  It’s not that kind of town.  Make some friends.  Keep them close.  And when the shit gets deep, far beyond what you can stand, just hold fast and don’t give up.”   He shrugged. “It ain’t poetical, but it what it is.”(238)  Which I trust is also a promise that we will see more of Maureen Coughlin.

You can pre-order a copy of The Devil in Her Way: A Novelon amazon,  or perhaps your local bookstore or library.

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books (April 30, 2013)

Another review, but from a New Orleans Perspective that you should check out is Cate Root.

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