The Living End

The Living End by Craig Schaefer

The Daniel Faust series is among those UF series I discovered a few years after I started reading in English. It was another UF series that made me fall in love with Fantasy and I carved more. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Craig Schaefer‘s series, probably someone recomennded it. Anyway, it’s been a long time coming for me to read the third book, The Living End. I didn’t feel like picking up a new series, so decided to go for one I meant to continue for years now. This audiobook was supposed to last me about 10 days or so, instead I devoured it in 5… That’s not how one tries to space out her credits *shakes fist at Schaefer*.

Series: Daniel Faust #3Genre: urban fantasy, fantasy
Date of Publishing: August 27th 2014Publisher: Demimonde Books
The Living End by Craig Schaefer

As the FBI closes in on the Las Vegas underworld, Daniel Faust — grifter, thief, and sorcerer — isn’t the only one feeling the heat. Half-demon racket boss Nicky Agnelli is fighting to hang onto his empire, leaving a trail of dead informants in his wake, while Daniel’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer rallies her forces on the street and aims her sights at Nicky’s crown.

Meanwhile, homeless people are vanishing by the dozens. Daniel has bigger problems to worry about, but a plea from an old friend sends him on a search for answers. What he finds is a conspiracy twenty years in the making, involving a power-hungry senator, occult experiments, murderous British mercenaries…and Lauren Carmichael, Daniel’s nemesis.

From a gunfight in the Arizona badlands to unearthing buried secrets in a New York laboratory, the hunt is on. With Lauren’s deadly plan revealed and time running out, Daniel and his crew will stop at nothing to take her down. She’s got the law in her pocket and a hired army at her back. He’s got black magic, bullets, and the art of the con. It’s high noon in Vegas and when the dust settles, only one side will be left standing.

May the best villain win.

“Yeah, I was familiar with demonic posession. The drug coursing through my veins, hauling me through flashes of stark memory, forcing me to feel it all over again. Creatures of toxic waste burrowed like maggots in my brain, pissing behind my eyeballs, sratching bone and carving filthy graffiti inside my skull.”*

*Just a quick side note: I typed the above quoute while listening to the audio, so there might be differences to the printed book.

I’m not 100% sure I’m satisfied with my choice as I have something a bit different in mind for Daniel but this was the closest I could come up with. So, Strike Back by We As Human it is.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read the first two books, The Long Way Down and Redemption Song in the Daniel Faust series, so my memories were quite a bit hazy. But between those and the third lone, The Living End, I’ve read one of Craig Schaefer‘s trilogies, The Wisdom’s Grave (reviews of Sworn to the Night, Detonation Boulevard and Bring the Fire are linked) and Ghosts of Gotham – all of which I enjoyed, so I think we can safely say he is definitely one of my favourite authors at this point.

Due to the long brake between books, it took me a bit of time to get back into the story and straight out who is who in my head. I guess I could just go and Google the summary of the first two books, but that would have been just too easy. Nonetheless, I picked the crumbs up and soon enough I was able to let myself be immersed in Daniel’s world once again. One of the main draws of this series on me is that I have great memories from my very brief Las Vegas trip in 2014 and I’m always happy to visit that place. Even if I only do so in my head. And through Daniel Faust’s eyes, which makes the city much more interesting – and probably more dangerous too. In a way.

The Living End picks events up not too long after the ending of the Redemption Song. Lauren Carmichael is on the run, Daniel and Jennifer try to stay away from Harmony Black FBI Agent, and Nick is not too happy about things going on in his territory. And if Daniel didn’t have enough problems yet, he is asked by a friend to look into the disappearances of homeless people. Which leads to even more trouble and some unexpected truths. But it wouldn’t be Daniel Faust if he couldn’t bullshit his way out of some really tight situations.

Plot-wise there is definitely a LOT going on. I’m not even going to try to cover them, because you have to experience it yourself. Plotlines seemingly not to do anything with each other weave into an intricate story but then again, that’s pretty much expected if you are familiar with Craig Schaefer‘s work. Simple and easy is definitely not his style. The story moves at a break neck speed, there is hardly any time to take a breath. More than once I ended up listening way more than I intended, because each ending of a chapter just made me go “okay, just one more, I need to know what happens next”.

We have old and new characters alike, but despite of the large set of them, they are always easy to distinguish from each other. It also has to be noted that the way Schaefer’s universe merge with the different characters is just awesome. We have Harmony Black for example who also has her own series, or Senator Roth makes an appearance here who is also a key character in The Wisdom’s Grave trilogy. But you don’t necessarily have to know about this in order for The Living End to be enjoyable as hell.

Back when I started reading the Daniel Faust series and Caitlin showed up to become Daniel’s partner, I remember rolling my eyes and thinking “oh no, is this going to be one of those series where the MC picks up a woman in each installment?” – I mean, come on, it was a real fear. To my immense relief this is absolutely not the case. In fact, one of my favourite aspect of this book was the way they interacted with each other, how we can watch their relationship building, how they deal with the consequences of their choice. And can I just say how fucking much I loved the gambling part? And the concert scene afterwards? Holy shit. That was just so goddamn brilliant!

“Calypso’s hands played the guitar like it was a lover’s body. Like they only had one night left in the world together and every second, every aching, wailing note had to make up for a lost lifetime. This was the real blues, down-home raw and ragged, drenched with sweat and sex and the bloodied edge of a switchblade.”

The Living End did nothing but grew my love for both Craig Schaefer‘s writing and Daniel Faust. But if I had to criticise something, then it would be the somewhat anti-climatic ending. Don’t get me wrong, the twists were awesome and very well done, but felt like that despite the long build up the end game ended just in a heartbeat and didn’t brought that kind of adrenaline I was waiting for. But it might have been because I stopped listening at a weird place the day before and wasn’t quite ready to end yet. Anyhow, I definitely will continue with the series.

The Living End lives up to its predecessors, and then takes things to a higher level. The break neck pace, the characters, the stakes are going to drive your adrenaline level up and make you want more. The Daniel Faust series gets better by each book and I’m so here for the rest. It’s a must read for any UF lover out there. Beware, it’s highly addictive!

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