by Rob Rogers
Format: Paperback, 409 pages
Cover Design: Chris McGrath
Release Date: April 1, 2008
"A city where corruption and heroism walk hand-in-hand, and justice and mercy are bought and paid for in blood, Devil’s Cape has never been kind to its heroes. But when a new band of vigilantes rises from the ashes of one of the city’s most horrific murders, they set in motion a course of events that will change the city forever – but not necessarily for the better."
The book begins in flashback, giving the background of the major characters as well as several minor characters in the novel. The story then catches up to the present day as a team of superheroes arrives to avenge the death of a teammate twenty years earlier, however a gang of super-powered criminals guns them down in cold blood. Their deaths galvanize others into action intent on bringing down the former circus freaks. And watching and manipulating everything from the shadows, is the mysterious Robber Baron.
The city of Devil’s Cape is itself practically it’s own character; built in the swamps of Louisiana not far from New Orleans, by an honest-to-God pirate by the name of St. Diable. The extremely detailed background really brings the city to life and makes it feel as if it really exists. As a haven for criminals and corruption, I can’t help but be reminded of DC Comics Gotham City, likely the inspiration for the author’s city. The existence of superheroes is another similarity to the comic book universe with characters’ powers and costumes much like those of popular superheroes. Though perhaps I should say super-powered people instead, as not everyone with superpowers in Devil’s Cape would be considered a hero.
As can be guessed from the book’s plot, the setting is quite dark and gritty so it’s not surprising that the characters are as dirty as the city in which they live. Everyone is, to some degree, tainted or touched by the city’s influence. Characters fall on both sides of the line between good and evil and sometimes cross it several times in the novel. And everyone has their own reason and motivations for what they do. As for the Robber Baron, well, you’ll just have to read the book. If anything, I thought the characters could have been a little grayer than they were actually portrayed, but it’s only the author’s first novel.
Devil’s Cape is an impressive debut novel. There is more than enough material for more books sequels and hopefully Rob Rogers will write more in this setting and in others as well. Strongly recommended.