With Devils in Exile, author Chuck Hogan demonstrated the capability to execute an interesting idea poorly. Here, the interesting idea centers around Neal Maven, a soldier returning home from Irag only to find that he is ill-equipped to function in civilian society. In steps Brad Royce, a fellow veteran with Neal’s high school crush Danielle Vetti on his arm. Royce offers maven a job opportunity few could refuse: he and Royce’s team of veterans will clandestinely halt drug deals in progress, destroying the product and nabbing the cash for themselves. Taking this opportunity to position himself closer to Danielle. Maven accepts the offer, beginning a rollicking train ride of a novel that unfortunately ends in a crash.
Hogan mixes in intriguing characters like two crazed Jamaican assassins and a DEA agent who will stop at nothing to halt these extralegal activities, but even they can’t save the last third of the novel from the becoming a violent, uninteresting mess. This is really a shame, because the earlier parts of the book were excellently written, peppered with fun action sequences and colorful characters. It feels like this last third was rushed or completely unedited, which ultimately turns Devil in Exile from good to mediocre at best.
–A. M. (age 15)