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‘The Devil Be Damned’ by Ali Vali

‘The Devil Be Damned’ by Ali Vali

Author: Victoria Brownworth

February 21, 2011

Fourth in the “Devil” series from New Orleans writer Ali Vali featuring the Casey family—notably Cain Casey, her wife, Emma, their children and Cain’s cousin, Muriel—The Devil Be Damned (Bold Strokes Books) picks up where the previous mystery, or “romantic thriller,” Deal with the Devil, left off.

Readers be forewarned, these books should really be read consecutively as each book leads into the other and readers will appreciate each book more if read in order. This one especially does not stand alone outside the series.

As the novel opens, Cain is still coping with pain and regret from not having been able to protect Emma from being kidnapped and held hostage by Cain’s sworn enemy, Juan Luis.
Emma appears to have forgiven her wife, but Cain has not forgiven herself. Nor is she ready to let the vendetta go, even though Juan Luis and his cohort, rogue FBI agent Anthony Curtis (one fascinating character), have disappeared. They are, however,  much closer than Cain knows—right across the border in Texas. Waiting.

But then that’s how it is with mobsters and crime syndicates and FBI surveillance teams, even the lesbian ones. Vendettas and take-downs are part of the action–even when everything else seems to be going well. Because crime is a messy business with blood and guts, honor and betrayal at its black heart.

Yet things do seem to be going well—at least on the surface. Emma is pregnant with the couple’s third child and Cain has never loved her more. Forgotten are the past betrayals by Emma and the problems that Cain’s “career” has brought into their lives. Their third child will be one more thing uniting the couple forever. And also one more thing that could be threatened by outsiders to the family business.

Also, Cain’s own cousin, Muriel, has gotten caught up in a relationship with FBI agent Shelby Philips, who is leading surveillance on the Casey crime family. Shelby’s boss, Annabel Hicks, lead agent in the New Orleans FBI office, doesn’t think Shelby can infiltrate the family through Muriel, but Shelby thinks otherwise. Cain wonders if Muriel can be trusted.

Drama and romance and some killing ensue: The Casey family is stronger than ever and the FBI seems unable to catch Cain, et al, getting so much as a parking ticket. Cain’s business partner, Remi Jatibon, has some issues with her lover, Dallas Montgomery (aren’t these names fabulous?). Meanwhile, drug traffickers are trying to insinuate themselves into the clan from the outside, making a kind of trouble Cain can’t ignore.

Then, suddenly, a new player comes to town and what this person does is so stunning that even Cain doesn’t know how to respond. But must.

Call this one Agents and Agent Provocateurs: nasty and tasty.

As in previous books in the series, Vali tends to make the FBI look less than competent, but then the Casey family is pretty hard core. There are reasons why crime syndicates are multi-generational. This is “The Godfather” series, lesbian style.

No chance of spoiler alerts needed for giving away the ending. One maddening flaw is that the book has a “to be continued” finale. These should never be allowed. Ever. This “concept” ending will frustrate most readers as it did this reviewer. But since Vali has been publishing a book in the series each year, look for the sequel in a few months. (Or email Bold Strokes and tell them this kind of thing just might lose you as a fan.)
by Ali Vali
Bold Strokes Books
Paperback, 9781602821590, 288 pp
August 2010

Victoria Brownworth photo

About: Victoria Brownworth

Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer and the author and editor of nearly 30 books. She has won the NLGJA and the Society of Professional Journalists awards, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 SPJ Award for Enterprise Reporting in May 2014. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and A Room of Her Own, a columnist and contributing editor for Curve magazine and Lambda Literary Review and a columnist for San Francisco Bay Area Reporter. Her reporting and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Ms Magazine and Slate. Her book, 'From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth' won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for cultural & historical fiction. Her new novel, 'Ordinary Mayhem,' won the IPPY Award for fiction on May 1, 2015. Her book 'Erasure: Silencing Lesbians' and her next novel, 'Sleep So Deep,' will both be published in 2016. @VABVOX

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