Devil In The Countryside is a historically inspired thriller set in 1588 at the time of the Reformation. The plot follows investigator Heinrich Franz, who is looking for answers after numerous mysterious killings in the German countryside, attributed to the Werewolf of Bedburg.
The concept for the book reminds me of stories like Van Helsing, which is just the sort of thing I enjoy.
I think Barclay’s decision to mix fact and fiction was a bold one, but it made the political and historical context in which the book is set interesting.
Conventions of the genre, such as mysterious characters and gruesome murders were used well, and the writing was mostly easy to follow.
However, I struggled to imagine the settings and characters as authentically German. It felt more like a story about American characters that happened to have Germanic names. For me, this was particularly obvious when reading the amount of American slang used within dialogue – slang I’m quite sure wasn’t around in 16th century Germany!
This was a shame, because I think it prevented me from reading Devil In The Countryside as a historical fiction, and I read it more as a modern thriller.
Similarly, the dialogue also contained a surprising amount of crude swearing.
Normally, this is isn’t enough to discourage me, but in an era of strong religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, I doubt casual phrases such as ‘God dammit’ would be used in dialogue between priests and religious citizens.
Devil In The Countryside is a reasonable thriller inspired by historical events, and if you enjoy violence or the supernatural, I’m sure it would be a good read for you.
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars