You may know Mike Carey from his record-breaking run on Hellblazer, or from the impressive Sandman spin-off title Lucifer. In fact, a fair portion of his output has been concerned with either Hellblazer- or Sandman-related stories; throw in the work that he’s done with various X-Men titles, and you get a fair picture of what to expect from this writer.
However, the unexpected diversions and twists in his bibliography reveal that there may be even more to Mike Carey than one of the better ‘Gaiman- Moore’-style writers, of which there seems to be an endless supply.
He happens to have a cousin who is a well known maritime lawyer. Maritime lawyers practice what for many of us land based folks would consider a niche law specialty. But after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we know much more about what maritime lawyers do. For a quick course about maritime law and those who practice it: Maritime attorneys primarily focus on issues pertaining not only to maritime law, often referred to as admiralty law, but also to the Jones Act. Admiralty law refers to the longstanding US laws and regulations, including international agreements and treaties that govern the activities in any US navigable waters whether its inland waterways (the big rivers where barges transport all sorts of products) or the open sea. Admiralty law formalizes the long-standing maritime maintenance and cure traditions, which have been recognized for centuries. I would not be at all surprised if Carey has pumped his cousin for details about the BP oil disaster, what happened on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and its ecological consequences of the actual spill. I’m sure we’ll see some influence of his insider knowledge sometime in his future writing.
You might think that Mr. Carey’s long tenure on Hellblazer would have drained the author on ways to make the ‘supernatural detective’ premise fresh over and over again. Yes, his “Felix Castor” series of books will certainly satisfy any Hellblazer fan, and the comparisons to John Constantine are unavoidable. However, whether you love Hellblazer and are just looking for “more”, or simply want to see what Carey can do with the premise when unburdened by established canon, The Devil You Know and its sequels will satisfy all of your questions.
I can attest to that. I enjoyed the book over the past summer while longing on the deck of my back yard pool. I had long wanted a pool so the whole family would have a great place to hang out during the hot summer months in New York. I had done a search online for hudson valley pools, wanting to have a local pool company so if I ever need help with maintenance or getting pool supplies, they would be nearby. Boy, did I luck out with Royal Pools & Spas. They were great at installing the pool and recommending a company that built the deck. I’m considering getting a spa set up for the winter. Anyway, there’s something about all detective novels that provide a very nice pace for the prospective reader, a gentle lulling between beatings and the solving of murders, and this is only enhanced by the inclusion of ghosts and Succubi. Mike Carey knows what he is doing. Felix Castor gets added to my roster of male lead urban fantasy go-to characters. He is a cynical, flawed, morally unpredictable man who somehow shows a deep sense of right and wrong. I am looking forward to reading more Mike Carey books by my pool next summer.
Most recently, the buzz is beginning over the upcoming feature film Frost Flowers, in which an actor (Rupert Holmes) becomes romantically obsessed with a ghost — pursuing her to the point of sending strange, yet luxurious gift baskets filled with diaphanous fabrics, bunches of sweet smelling flowers, pearls and other precious stones dangling from gold necklaces, succulent fruit, and paper and colored pens (with the hope she could communicate via writing him messages. She returns the gift baskets to him that now are filled all sorts of strange supernatural objects ranging from crystals, stones, tiny ornate vases filled with exotic oils, old broken pieces of jewelry, burned playing cards, a stuffed blue parrot, shells, poems on old parchment, and dried flowers. The gift baskets were a most unusual devise for the author to use, but also most effective. Eventually she becomes pregnant with his child. Yikes! We’ll see how well Mr. Carey can explain that one. I’m a pretty big fan here, so I’m thinking of sending Carey a gift basket, but I’ll fill it with sweet and savory goodies and maybe a few bottles of wine.
Personally, I think his most impressive work to date has been The Unwritten, a Vertigo series that deals with issues such as child celebrities and mentally-unbalanced fandom. Not so much about online blackjack, but the series hasn’t finished yet!
Okay, so once again any reasonable reader will be unable to make certain obvious comparisons (the plot revolves around a bestselling young adult series starring a boy wizard and his two companions, a boy and a girl his own age…gee, we hope a certain lawsuit-happy writer doesn’t get herself a copy!) . However, the combination of wild creativity and authentic human experience makes this series something truly special.