The Devil's Feast is a dark, undulating tale of murder most murky. The third in the Avery & Blake series by M.J. Carter, following on from The Strangler Vine and The Infidel Stain, this book takes us to a gloomy underworld where the darkest facets of human nature are pulled sharply into view.
The novel is set in Victorian London, a world of strict hierarchies and social mores quite different to our own. There has been a mysterious death at the Reform, London's newest and grandest gentleman's club, and Captain Avery is approached to uncover the murderer using all his powers of deduction and discretion. He must also solve the crime under an unusual pressure as his usual partner, Blake, is missing. Like Sherlock without his Watson, Avery must solve the clues alone and try to fathom whether this murder is a gruesome one-off or the beginning of a far more grisly set of events...
This is a competent, entertaining thriller. It's not necessarily a genre I've read much in before, but the action moves along swiftly and the characters are convincing and the action thrilling - I loved trying to predict what twist or turn might emerge next! I also enjoyed learning a little more about London in 1842 (turns out celebrity chefs have been with us for a good long time!) and the various political and personal motivations of the cast of characters.
If you are looking for a good, pacey thriller with plenty to ponder (as well as the central whodunnit I enjoyed the mystery around Blakes whereabouts!), this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark autumnal evening. I haven't read the first two books in the series but was still able to follow the action and proceedings happily, and very much enjoyed a glimpse of a London long gone.
Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.