After Zero Saints, Coyote Songs, and now The Devil Takes You Home, I have just one thing to say: Gabino Iglesias does not fuck around. This new sub-genre of thriller he has created and wholly owns—part high-octane crime novel, part blood-curdling horror, part merciless depiction of the desperation spawned by grinding poverty—is utterly original and devastating. I’ve seen it called barrio noire, and that seems apt to me. Like his other novels, The Devil Takes You Home is set along both sides of the frontera, the U.S./Mexican border. The tone is pitch black, honed to a razor edge, and steeped in a rich, atmospheric stew of Catholicism, mysticism, and supernatural lore. As always with Iglesias, Spanish is sprinkled liberally throughout the novel’s dialogue, lending it authenticity.
The story begins in a moment of grief, sorrow, and rage for a man named Mario. He falls into being a hitman to pay for his young daughter’s overwhelming medical expenses, and then finds himself drawn into the proverbial one last job that promises a large enough payoff to maybe, just maybe, let him start a new life. This leads to a harrowing descent into violence and unspeakable horror.
I won’t give away the particulars here. Those are for you to discover. Iglesias writes with an unfettered, feverish intensity. At the point where other authors might pull back and fade too black, he puts the pedal to the metal with what I’m sure was accompanied by, as he wrote it, a primal scream. There are a couple of scenes in The Devil Takes You Home that made me set the book gently down and step away for a little while. He writes with what I can only describe as a reckless bravado. Even when he’s showing you something you don’t want to see, he does it with such sensory-drenched language, such a flair for description, that you can’t look away. There’s a rhythm to the words, a musicality that I loved.
Iglesias’ characters, to a man and woman, are complicated and original, with backstories often delineated by heartbreak and violence. Mario, in particular, is filled with so much anguish and pain that I found myself understanding the choices he makes, no matter how foolish they ultimately are. The other characters are just as strong.
The Devil Takes You Home is not for the faint-hearted. Iglesias takes you on a tour through a world saturated with blood and defined by evil. It’s a frightening but exhilarating ride. It will be released on August 2nd, 2022. Don’t miss this one.