The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell

devil aspect

Book Review


How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by madness?

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.
Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.


An extremely atmospheric read.  A dark, chilling Gothic novel set in 1935’s Czechoslovakia.

We first meet Dr Viktor Kosarek, a 29 year old psychiatrist setting out to catch his train to his new job.  He is leaving Prague to work at The Hrad Orlu Asylum, where the only patients are those known as The Devil’s Six.  These six inmates have all committed atrociously violent and macabre murders and are kept under strict security. Viktor is very keen to start his new job and begin work to see if he can prove his theory he calls The Devil Aspect.

The asylum is in a small village about an hour outside Prague, housed inside a castle steeped in folklore and stories of death and murder.  There is a strong undercurrent in the story here and a dislike of anything to do with the castle is felt by the villagers.

At the same time, and back in Prague, a serial killer, known as The Leather Apron, is on the loose.  Possibly mimicking Jack The Ripper infilling terror and fear into the citizens of Prague.  Here we meet Kapitan Lucas Smolak (my favourite character of the book) in charge of the investigation.

The story unfolds extremely effectively introducing us to these two story lines.  The setting is superb, both in history and place and you can tell the author has been very thorough in his research.  We learn of the individual cases of those locked up in Hrad Orlu  and this is where it gets very dark indeed, with graphic horror stories like descriptions.  The research and true facts injected into these tales are very enjoyable. The suspense and growing fear and darkness is evident and makes for a very good read.

I liked the horror type twist at the very end and overall I found this a chilling read.  I hadn’t read anything else by this author before and liked the afterword at the end of the book.

This book was published this week. I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.



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