I Shot the Devil has all the makings of a classic hard-boiled crime novel, but with a dark sinister twist. The protagonist, Erin Sloane, is no exception. A lonesome, intelligent journalist who deals with the trauma of her childhood by chewing prescription drugs and washing them down with whisky for breakfast.
Erin has been offered what could be the biggest story of her career. But it’s one that is far too close to home. When Erin was sixteen, high school senior Andre Villiers was murdered by their group of friends; pegged as the drug taking metal-head gang who skipped class and worshipped Satan led by the intense and charismatic Ricky Hell.
Five of them went into West Cypress Woods the night Andre was killed, and only three came out. Erin wasn’t there. Now 16 years later, someone thinks the police got it wrong and Erin is catapulted back to Southport, Long Island to debunk the dominant narrative about the events of 1994; innocent teens corrupted by the “evil” Rick Hell to carry out a Satanic thrill-kill style murder.
McIver’s debut novel is exceptionally well-written. But while the plot is unique, it’s frustratingly complicated. What begins as a tense and suspenseful thriller, turns into a complex murder mystery laced with childhood trauma and loss, domestic violence and police corruption all with an unsettling undertone of Satanism. What the author does very well, is layer the complexity of Erin Sloane’s experiences and personality. The narrative is led by the interplay between Erin’s memories and the conflicting revelations from people she encounters as she gets closer to the truth. However, the pacing is sporadic. There are some incredibly powerful scenes that feel disjointed and haven’t been woven together succinctly. While the ending is unpredictable, which is rare for a crime fiction piece, it unfortunately asks more questions than it answers.