The Devil's Brew

The Devil's Brew: A Charlie Bars Thriller (The Charlie Bars Thriller Series Book 2)

I was contacted by Crime Wave Press asking if I would be interested in reading The Gingerbread Houses by Benedict J. Jones which has just been released and will make the third suspense noir thriller featuring Charlie “Bars” Constantinou.

As I like to start a series at the beginning I asked and received a digital copy of his first stand alone Charlie Bars thriller  (Pennies for Charon) which I greatly enjoyed, but if you want all of Charlie’s story I suggest starting with Skewered a collection of short stories, three of which feature Charlie Bars.

The Devil’s Brew is the second full length novel in this series and once again I received a digital copy compliments of Crime Waves Press in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Jones continues where he left off at the end of Pennies for Charon and we find both Charlie and Mazza on the mend both physically and mentally in the aftermath of that climatic conclusion. I got just enough of Mazza during this tale to make me miss him—even though he spells trouble when he is around.

With things still a little “hot” in London Charlie skips town for a bit and holes up in a remote Northumbrian cottage in the heart of the English countryside. He hopes to get some down time, come to terms with some recent dark choices and deadly results, and hopes to get back to painting and the quiet life.

Charlie is out of his element away from London and not really sure what to make of these bare open spaces and oddly enough this shows in the writing as well as it is done in a style more reminiscent of Skewered than it is of Pennies. But the writing suits the tone of this book perfectly as Charlie is trying to take a step back returning to his paintings and his former resolve for a straighter life.

No such luck for Charlie, however, as he soon finds himself enveloped in his nearest neighbors troubles who are also newcomers to the area.  I am pleased to report that we are again treated to a dark tale with a bit of a paranormal twist. 

This time around it comes in the form of an violent, twisted family ruled over by the patriarchal grandfather who still “worships” in the old way by sipping on a devil’s brew, and making sacrifices to the horned one. He thrives on manipulating his family and during the course of this we are treated to any number of evil repulsive family doings, which ends up making this book even darker than Pennies.

A green-eyed black cat turns up at Charlie’s front door and quickly takes up residence—a beautiful creature who is perhaps more than she seems. He even manages to sneak in a bit of painting in between hitting the pub and dealing with the locals.  We definitely see a different side to Charlie.

It is hard to find fault with a story that kept me glued to the page and finishing it after a couple reads. This outing is also a little more steamy as Charlie spends some time hitting the sheets.

I am appreciative of authors who write scenes with authenticity as we see here when Mazza helps Charlie prepare for a lengthy surveillance detail. This book is not without its wee bits of humor and that is certainly welcome relief in such a brutal story.

Mr. Jones sure does know his way around writing action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat and this novel does not disappoint.

 I hope this is not a spoiler but I cannot resist this comment.  Be forewarned.

 Mr. Jones introduces a romantic interest for Charlie in the form of Ellie Bashir, the woman who accounts as the sole form of law enforcement in this neck of the woods. She is one bad ass lady and provided of course that she survives her time with Charlie I would definitely read more about her, she has great main character potential, and she more than merits a stand alone of her own.

 I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to get started on The Gingerbread Houses.


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Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.