Lore and Dysorder: The Hell’s Detective Mysteries
By Patrick Thomas
Padwolf Publishing 2011
Book purchased by Reviewer
Review by Ida Vega-Landow
Sure, and if it isn’t another fine book by that fine Irish laddie, Patrick Thomas! This one is about another of the regulars at Bullfinch’s Bar, a forgotten Sumerian fire god who goes by the name Negral. He’s the chief of Hell’s secret police, 666th Precinct, who channels Humphrey Bogart. I kid you not; Negral is such a big Bogie fan that he manifests himself as a tall, dark man in a suit wearing a trench coat and a fedora. He talks tough like Bogie too, and doesn’t bother to tell his suspects their Miranda Rights. That’s because most of them are the damned souls who inhabit Hell, or the demons who own them. Satan thinks so highly of him that he gave him the right to investigate and interrogate any resident of Hell, answering only to His Satanic Majesty.
Despite his tough guy persona, Negral is really a nice guy at heart. When the devil isn’t looking, he performs random acts of kindness for any stray soul that deserves it. In this slim volume, whose front cover is colorfully illustrated by Patrick himself, you’ll find six stories of Hell’s Detective walking his beat in Hell and on Earth, rounding up the escaped demons and damned souls who are the rightful property of Satan, or helping the innocent souls escape from his clutches, making sure that the devil gets his due in return for refuge from wherever it is that forgotten gods go when they no longer have worshippers.
Patrick Thomas gives us a funny and touching account of life in Hell, consistent with Christian theology as well as some ancient folklore that has managed to survive to this day, along with Negral. Nobody escapes roasting in Patrick Thomas’ version of Hell; lawyers, politicians, bureaucracy, even supposedly sacred institutions like marriage. Speaking of which, wait till you meet the demon named Nupchuel, who specializes in punishing vow breakers, married people who cheat on their spouses. His realm looks like a ghastly Los Vegas wedding chapel, all the souls who end up there, male and female alike, are forced to marry him (they wear black, Nupchuel wears white) and promise to “honor, respect, and obey him without question or complaint”; the vows are enforced by a cursed wedding ring that can “electrocute, deep fry, freeze, and dismember among other things,” if the wearer is the least bit disobedient or tries to run away. While Nupchuel promises to “punish, torment, abuse, cheat, and otherwise make his spouse’s afterlife miserable”, starting with the wedding night. According to Negral, he’s been known to “line up his spouses twenty deep and perform his husbandly duties working his way from the outside in,” with a manhood—I mean a demonhood that’s “a combination piranha, chainsaw and jackhammer”. Ouch! Well, like Negral says, “Hell isn’t supposed to be pretty”.
If you think that’s bad, pray that you never end up as a contestant on Hell’s highest-rated reality show, No Survivors, where all the contestants are damned souls that are killed off one by one in various sadistic and painful ways for the amusement of the demonic audience. Oh, did I mention that there’s no death or unconsciousness in Hell? You can be raped, tortured, and killed in over a million ways, but you won’t stay dead or unconscious for long. Your wounds always heal, your missing body parts always grow back, and there’s always another demon waiting to take its turn tormenting you.
A small sample of stories from Negral’s casebook:
“Dysenfranchised” is about Negral’s search for a newly damned soul who has the power to put demon lords into a coma, earning herself the title of the Comanator.
“Dysembodied” is part two of a story from “Empty Graves”, Patrick’s collection of zombie stories, about a body-snatching demon that turns his victims into zombies so he can prey on the living. In this one, Negral gets help from two of New York’s Finest tracking down the living dead serial killer.
“Dysenchanted” tells how Negral helps out a hard-boiled dame with a body that won’t quit, a beautiful succubus named Bambi who wants him to find her lost virginity. If you think that’s weird, wait till you meet Balchain, the Lord of the Dance, a pink tutu-wearing demon who loves ballet.
Not to mention Myrth, a demon lord who looks like a clown and runs his Hellish realm like an amusement park, the sort that only the Addams family would love. (Imagine a merry-go-round with beautifully carved horses and other fantastic animals, but with the naked bodies of the damned impaled on the poles while the animals chew on them.) This clown prince of darkness appears in another story entitled “Dysconnected”, where he helps Negral track down The Great Betrayer, Judas Iscariot, Satan’s greatest prize, after the deceitful disciple is stolen from him. Not only does Negral find Judas, he helps him escape from Hell long enough to see Jesus and beg His forgiveness for the act of betrayal that resulted in His crucifixion. Does Jesus forgive him? Sorry, sweetheart, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Go ahead, buy “Lore and Dysorder” and get to know Hell’s Detective. It’ll be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.