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Damned Busters: To Hell and Back, Book 1 (Hell to Pay) Mass Market Paperback – May 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Hell to Pay
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857661035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857661036
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

-
Praise for Matthew Hughes

"If you're an admirer of the science fantasies of Jack Vance, it's hard not to feel affection for the Archonate stories of Matthew Hughes... Hughes has strengths of his own to draw upon: his own considerable wit, and a flair for reified metaphysics surpassing anything conceived by Vance."
- Nick Gevers, Locus

"A bit Arthur Conan Doyle, a bit Jack Vance.... Henghis's escapades [have] the lasting appeal of one of PG Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster books."
- Seattle Times

"Hughes's successful blend of magic, the supernatural and high-tech with Sherlockian deductions (and cryptic observations straight out of Doyle's canon) suggests a long life for Hapthorn."
- Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Matt Hughes was born sixty years ago in Liverpool, England, but his family moved to Canada when he was five. He' has made my living as a writer all of his adult life, first as a journalist, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and - from 1979 until a few years back - as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia. He is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Writers and he used to belong to Mensa Canada, but these days he's conserving his energies to write fiction. The author lives in Ireland.

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Customer Reviews

The beginning of the book and the main story even seem somewhat disconnected from each other.
A P
I will add that I found the book to be well written, with interesting characters, enough conflict to keep me turning pages, and a quirky sense of humor.
LoneStarReader
I read the description of the first book, The Damned Busters, and decided it sounded fun enough and bought it.
SarahSaysRead

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Keith W. Harvey on May 31, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Matthew Hughes has accomplished something unique: he has written a novel, without illustrations, that conveys the tone and feel of comics published during their Golden Age. The Golden Age of Comics lasted from the late 1930s until the early 1950s; and, it was during this period that some of its most iconic characters appeared: Superman, Batman, Captain America, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel. These comics were written for children(although many adults, especially men in the service, read them); they possessed a simplicity and naivety that modern comics no longer contain. However, in some marvelous way, Hughes has captured that earlier tone and transferred it to a novel that on a very fundamental level operates as a re-telling of the Faust myth. To accomplish this almost alchemical transformation--comic feel into novel form, he employs images and icons from the Jazz Age, the Golden Age of Comics, Milton and the Bible.

The novel unfolds from the third-person limited view of Chesney Arnstruther, a border-line autistic actuary, who accidentally conjures up a demon while constructing a five-sided poker table. The demon appears when Chesney bangs his finger, producing blood, and blathers in his made-up gobbledegook swear words an oath that summons it. When he attempts to dismiss the demon with protestations of a simple mistake made, the demon doesn't take no for an answer; instead, he does what any good bureaucrat does, he calls in his supervisor. The second one had "the head of a weasel that had been refitted to sport a pair of canine fangs of sabertooth caliber, and coal-black eyes the size of saucers"(p. 14). Xaphan, who has not appeared on earth since the 20s, comes on like Edward G.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LoneStarReader on July 3, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I had decided not to purchase any new books until I completed my "to-be-read" pile. However, I stopped at an airport bookstore (despite the fact I had brought a book with me) and saw The Damned Busters. I admit, the cover art enticed me to pick up the novel, but the first chapter encouraged me buy the book. I devoured half of it during the flight. Unusual for me, since I'm a relatively slow reader.

The other reviewers have already given a good plot synopsis, so I won't do that again. I will add that I found the book to be well written, with interesting characters, enough conflict to keep me turning pages, and a quirky sense of humor. I won't call this a light read. Mr. Hughes writing style is not fluffy. Both his paragraphs and chapters are chunky (my major complaint) and there needed to be more frequent breaks to allow the reader to pause. Fortunately, the pacing keeps the thick prose from interfering.

In summary, I was pleased with the book and recommend it to readers looking for a good read heavy on imagination, light on romance, and worth spending a little time enjoying.

On a final note, my 15-year-old son was also attracted to the cover art, read the first chapter and asked to have the book when I finished. That might be the best kudos any author can get: encouraging a new generation to read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A P on May 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was just okay. Below average. Which surprised me. I've read much of this author's work before, mostly short stories in sci-fi and fantasy magazines, and I always enjoyed it, and his writing style.

This book does not represent what I know the author is capable of. The beginning of the book and the main story even seem somewhat disconnected from each other. As a matter of fact, the first 60 pages (ebook pages) could have been trashed entirely with the background being written in 10 pages instead, and the flow of the book would have been much better. It was as if the author originally wrote the story then said, "Oh, I need to pad this out more," and then went back and wrote the first 60 pages.

If you're interested in this author, I would recommend his Henghis Hapthorn books. If this book was on sale for around two bucks, and you felt like wasting two bucks and a bit of time, then go for it. But the time spent reading this book could be spent reading much better things. In the words of the book itself, this book is merely... meh.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Whitt Patrick Pond TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 20, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Matthew Hughes' Damned Busters is hard to categorize. You could say it's dark fantasy, but you could also say it falls in the comic-book superhero crime-fighting genre as well. Either way, it's both highly original and highly engaging from the first chapter on, the sort of story that you don't want to put down.

It starts when Chesney Anstruther, a quiet and somewhat gawky actuary with an almost non-existent social life, inadvertently summons a demon while engaged in the seemingly harmless act of building a poker table. Complications arise when Chesney quite unexpectedly refuses to make a deal for the demon's services, adamantly turning down an escalating series of offers, each one coming from a higher level demon as the problem works its way up through Hell's bureaucracy. Eventually the bureaucracy starts to break down and suddenly all of the demons in Hell go on strike in frustration. While this might seem like a good thing for mankind, it actually starts creating problems on Earth as more and more people lose their motivation to do, well, much of anything really. Turns out a lot of our economy is driven by sins like lust, avarice, envy, greed, pride and the like, and without those driving us most people don't really want much, so they quit buying things, quit spending money, aren't motivated to work to get ahead, which sends the economy into a tailspin.

Ultimately a deal is worked out with the assistance of the Reverend Billy Lee Hardacre, a former labor lawyer turned TV evangelist, who is called in by Chesney's domineering and highly religious mother, Letitia, who happens to be a devoted fan of Reverend Hardacre.
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