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@Read Epub ó The Damned Busters Ú After accidentally summoning a demon, Chesney Anstruther refuses to sell his soul, which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world with disastrous consequences It s hard to make me laugh Call it a personal failing But it s true While other people gasp for air in a fit of jocularity, I m merely smiling, wondering about the depth of the humour involved The Damned Busters To Hell and Back, by Matthew Hughes, is the first time since reading Terry Fallis The Best Laid Plans, I actually burst into laughter while reading a book The title alone was enough to pique my curiosity an intriguing play on the 1955 British film about WWII RAF dam bombers.Hugh It s hard to make me laugh Call it a personal failing But it s true While other people gasp for air in a fit of jocularity, I m merely smiling, wondering about the depth of the humour involved The Damned Busters To Hell and Back, by Matthew Hughes, is the first time since reading Terry Fallis The Best Laid Plans, I actually burst into laughter while reading a book The title alone was enough to pique my curiosity an intriguing play on the 1955 British film about WWII RAF dam bombers.Hughes delivery is dry, unexpected, often with a remarkable turn of phrase At first I thought I d be reading aaccessible variation on Rushdie s theme in The Satanic Verses And while there are similarities by way of the timeless opposition of the divine and profane, Hughes story is utterly unpretentious, and consistently, deliciously, irreverent Because of that there were moments I was reminded of some of the famous scenes from Monty Python s Flying Circus And then again, moments of Douglas Adams whacky, surreal scenarios.Past the first few chapters my opinion changed again, so that I thought I was reading a graphic novel minus the graphics But the writing is so tight, and the character development so strong, even original, that the stereotypes of the superhero paradigm vanished We re presented with a socially deficient actuary, in fact a very Canadian hero in that he doesn t consider himself heroic, nor necessarily does he do heroic deeds He simply wants to aid in the pursuit of justice, a justice tempered with compassion and a bumbling, admirable, loveable naivet that lands him in an unusual deal with the Devil and a strike in Hell, while Himself Above rewrites the epic saga known to mere mortals as Life As our hero s slippery sidekick we re dished up a Cagney esque, stogey sucking, rum guzzling demon that breaks most archetypal standards.In the climax of all this zany narrative one is again reminded of classic literature in a scene that easily parallels Hades abduction of Persephone But in what appears to be quintessential Hughes facility, he turns that parallel into something completely unique so that we re left with an original, satisfying denouement and conclusion The Damned Busters should definitely find its way to your bookshelf or eReader if you re craving an entertaining and engaging bit of escapist literature An actuary, and one well suited to his job in every way, inadvertently summons a demon while erecting a poker table and hammering his finger While less than amenable to the idea of selling his soul, especially with incontrovertible proof that there actually is such a thing as eternal damnation, he sets into motion a set of events that has extremely humorous consequences.To say that the author, Matthew Hughes, can write is like sayingwell I was going to go for some sports analogy, but that An actuary, and one well suited to his job in every way, inadvertently summons a demon while erecting a poker table and hammering his finger While less than amenable to the idea of selling his soul, especially with incontrovertible proof that there actually is such a thing as eternal damnation, he sets into motion a set of events that has extremely humorous consequences.To say that the author, Matthew Hughes, can write is like sayingwell I was going to go for some sports analogy, but that just doesn t quite work, this is a fantasy book for crying out loud Let s say it s like saying an Ogier can build a house or since he s the Jack Vance guy it s like saying Cudgel is quick on the uptake.He s a genius and the first third of this book definitely proves it It s witty, clever, funny, and just plain amazingly well written Chesney Arnstruther, the heroic actuary, is not only an oddball, but extremely relatable The world he s created with heaven and hell and their relationship to our world is not only understandable, but believable and simply hilarious I would almost say along the line of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.I don t want to give away too much about the world and what makes it comical as it spoils some priceless moments, but essentially Heaven and Hell are sitting on each and every mortal s shoulder The demons tempt, but stick to what they re told while the angels just say the opposite Literally, all they do is say the opposite.With the heights that the opening third of The Damned Busters reached, the final two thirds in comparison were quite dismal In reality, I really enjoyed the last two thirds, they were just not nearly as good as the opening The superhero part was really entertaining and I really wanted to see how that worked and you ll see, it s pretty cool , but it just didn t compare and I feel bad that I couldn t get past that.The best way to explain this book may be with ratings stars The first third was easily 5 stars The mid third wasaround 3 stars and the final third about 3.5 stars Thus, you may see my conundrum when giving an actual rating to the entire book and so I settled on 4 Highly recommended if only for the first part.4 out of 5 Stars Advance reader copy the book is due out at the end of May.I bounced hard off this one And it s not because I read in audio without access to the art No, we were actually doing really good for the first quarter with the story of a hapless, nerdy as opposed to geeky, I know my classifications thank you actuary who accidentally summons a demon and causes a labor strike in hell It was funny, it was whacky, it was sneakily quite sharp about good and evil, the writing was crisp.And then the w Advance reader copy the book is due out at the end of May.I bounced hard off this one And it s not because I read in audio without access to the art No, we were actually doing really good for the first quarter with the story of a hapless, nerdy as opposed to geeky, I know my classifications thank you actuary who accidentally summons a demon and causes a labor strike in hell It was funny, it was whacky, it was sneakily quite sharp about good and evil, the writing was crisp.And then the whole thing jolted sideways into stupid self indulgent masturbatory superhero fantasies I had a sinking feeling when the blonde bombshell appeared, flipped forward, went hell no, and backed away fast I could unpack why this went so suddenly toxic I could talk about how incredibly fucking over I am these sorts of self consciously self mocking books about geeky sci fi nerds who want to be superheroes, but when they get a chance to it s not as easy as it looks and they have embarrassment squicky adventures but through accident and cleverness end up getting the keys to the city and access to the walking vagina of the moment anyway I could talk about how what I find most obnoxious is the underlying narrative of power, how this white, middle class, well educated guy feels so oppressed and powerless and emasculated, and how he gains power by hitting some people and sticking his dick in someone I could talk about how this feel good redemptive underdog crap is actually a deeply toxic story that lets a bunch of privileged people feel smug and authentically downtrodden But I am so over this book in all of its seventeen thousand incarnations, I can t even be fucking bothered to finish it and confirm my worst suspicions from the forward glances I took I have a thing for demon summoning.Wait, that didn t come out right I don t have a thing for demon summoning As in, I don t like summoning demons Actually, I ve never summoned a demon, but I imagine that if I did summon a demon, I wouldn t much enjoy it However, I suppose that there is a small chance that if I do, one day, summon a demon, then I might discover I enjoy it and start off on some kind of demon summoning kick or addiction At that point, we could say I have a thing for demon summ I have a thing for demon summoning.Wait, that didn t come out right I don t have a thing for demon summoning As in, I don t like summoning demons Actually, I ve never summoned a demon, but I imagine that if I did summon a demon, I wouldn t much enjoy it However, I suppose that there is a small chance that if I do, one day, summon a demon, then I might discover I enjoy it and start off on some kind of demon summoning kick or addiction At that point, we could say I have a thing for demon summoning.What I mean to say is that I tend to enjoy stories about summoning demons This is why the early seasons of Supernatural captivated me I stayed for the later seasons because the narrative deepened and Castiel is awesome The Damned Busters plays into this predilection of mine From the get go, Chesney Anstruther isn t happy about accidentally summoning a demon When his refusal to make a deal which would cost him his soul, naturally with this demon leads to a labour strike in Hell, Chesney finds himself in the middle of a very awkward negotiation But it works out OK for him in the end, because he gets superpowers Except it turns out that being a crimefighter with a demon sidekick is tougher than one might think though if your answer was, it sounds pretty tough , then I guess you re smarter than me or just a smartass.The first part of this book, which follows Chesney s incitement of the labour strike in Hell, is totally unlike the second part, which concerns Chesney s time as the Actionary I ve read several reviews that wish the first part had been jettisoned and one review that actually preferred it to the superhero narrative I have to side with the former reviewers the first part of The Damned Busters is slow and a little dull As I read it I was thinking that it would make a better short story than a novel indeed, from what I gather from the afterword, it was a short story that Matthew Hughes then expanded Hell going on strike was a good short story length gimmick, but after the initial laughter died down, it quickly became tedious.So thank God who is Hughes, in this case for the sudden changing of gears Chesney s apology to Satan is part of the back to work deal In return, Chesney gets a soul preserving deal with a demon who becomes a kind of familiar to him Thanks to the demon, Chesney has crimefighting superpowers and can rush about as the Actionary, saving damsels in distress and generally feeling like his fictional hero, the Driver He tries to impress the daughter of the head of the company he works for, but in so doing he comes to the attention of her father and his ambitions to fight crime as a political gambit.Unlike the first part of this book, the second part develops steadily At first Hughes delivers some of the same metafictional, self aware banter and observations that populate superheroic fiction these days Chesney s commentary on his evolution as the Actionary is pithy but nothing we haven t seen elsewhere Fortunately, Hughes seems to recognize this, and the stakes get higher He keeps us guessing as Chesney begins to recognize there is somethinggoing on with Paxton s C group than just meta analysis for the purposes of fighting crime Indeed, Chesney isn t the only person involved who has a deal with a demon, and that makes things all theinteresting.At one point early in the book, as Chesney watches the Reverend Billy Lee Hardacre mediate between Satan and the leader of the demons union, he wonders if he is really the hero of the story after all It seems like Hardacre is doing the important work It s a valid question at this point, because Chesney doesn t seem like hero material Indeed, he s a bit of a pig But as the story develops, so too does Chesney he s still a pig, but he s aheroic pig, a characterworthy of carrying a story like this on his shoulders Someone who deserves to thwart evil plans of world domination.Alas, Chesney s development from zero to hero is the exception and not the rule The Damned Busters suffers from flat characters all around Aside from Chesney, they are all essentially types of one kind or another in their descriptions, dialogue, and actions Both love interests, Penny Paxton and Melda McCall, are prime examples of this Hughes plays up Penny as the conniving heiress who always gets her way and that s all she is Similarly, Melda is the tough as nails yet mercurial beautician who can handle herself but is attracted to the Actionary nonetheless.In both cases, there s nothing really deeper going on here Normally with minor characters we at least get a peek at their motivations We learn about their relationships with their parents Where s Penny s mother What are Penny s aspirations, if any, beyond hanging around her father s office all the time Does Melda have any dreams beyond the beauty parlour We never get a glimpse at the person behind the character This is a huge problem, compounded by the fact that as much as Chesney improves, he remains a frail protagonist who is, if sympathetic, not all that enjoyable a person to hang around.The Damned Busters has its moments It s humourous, and Hughes is great at using characters as gimmicks and devices However, the book lacks any characters who generate enough emotional resonance to make the storythan interesting diversion It s competent and enjoyable but could have been much better.My reviews of To Hell Back Costume Not Included