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The Damned Busters is part one of Matthew Hughes’ To Hell and Back series. It is an imaginative and exciting tale of good vs. evil and the area in between. Chesney Arnstruther is a mathematical genius, who accidentally summons a demon while trying to build a five sided poker table. After refusing to sign over his soul to the demon, Arnstruther is introduced to several members of the bureaucracy of hell.
Chesney inadvertently upsets the strained order between a newly formed labor organization for demons and the upper management, and the demons responsible for tempting mortals to sin go on strike. This has disastrous results for the normal workings of the mortal world and Chesney quickly realizes that he must work to restore sin.
With a blend of heroism and social awkwardness, Chesney navigates the situation with the aid of his devoutly religious mother and a television priest who never quite got his degree in theology.
Hughes’ narrative relies on the nearly obsessive compulsive Chesney’s meticulous detailing of his surroundings and fellow characters to construct a vivid, imaginative world full of dynamic characters. From Chesney’s late social growth to his rum-guzzling, cigar smoking, demon assistant Xaphan who is stuck in the 1930’s, to the devil himself the story provides many richly layered characters.
The Damned Busters is a supernatural adventure that blends a rich and unpredictable story, with a tone and wit that provides plenty of laughs along the way. A great balance of action and comedic situations with some romance thrown in for good measure, albeit an awkward romance, this is a great read. It will forever contain the most intense game of poker I have ever read.