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3.4 out of 5 stars
Devilliers County Blues: 1972
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this work of John Cassell's out of order. Hell's Quest takes place in the year before Devillier's County Blues, but I was taking the book on vacation and HQ is a larger tome and the airlines are getting picky about weight limits so in went the smaller of the two volumes. Now I am anxiously awaiting my flight home so I can start on HQ!
I have become friends with Brother John through the Amazon Shorts program and he is an amusing, insightful and creative correspondent. I have also read some of his other books and stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. But not even his earlier works prepared me for the thrill ride that is DCB. I like to write, and read, stories that have a twist in the tail (or even tale). DCB has surprises in abundance, combined with the usual cast of believeable and sympathethic characters and a clear feel for the times in which the action takes place. John weaves in political and social commentary without ever taking away from the story or, for that matter, even seeming to comment at all.
John can also write effective erotic passages without the anatomical detail beloved by some authors....read the account of the protagonist's encounter with Luella in the guard tower and see if you agree. He can write just as effectively of violence without recourse to graphic detail....read of the capture at the farm house and tell me that you don't feel the horror.
As I said, I have become friends with John and some may view this review as slightly biased. For the nitpicker, there are flaws to be found, but show me a four hundred page book without flaws and I'll shake your hand. If you want a book that entertains, makes you think, recalls a turbulent time with astonishing clarity, twists your mind like a pretzel with its surprises and plot twists and, finally, leaves you satisfied as you close its final page.....this is a book for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
My first thought on finishing this book was, Wow! what a ride! The author had me in his grip right from the start. Not only is this a high powered action suspense thriller, but it seems so real somehow, though listed as fiction. Perhaps that is partly attributed to the name of the main protagonist, John Cassell, the same as the author. This may also be ascribed to the feeling of the building of terror and suspense. Whatever the reason for the name as main character, it certainly worked to his advantage, because it did make the story his.

John W. Cassell the author has delved deeply into the world of black ops, conspiracy, evil, greed, and terror. A world where everything operates inside out and eats away at our very souls. A world of organized crime, lawmen on the take, FBI policies and politics. In fact, so much rings true, I'm sure his is drawing a lot from personal knowledge in one form or another, perhaps from 3 or 4 instances. The book begins with Cassell returning home from war-torn Morocco, deeply mourning the death of his fighting partner/true love, Nancy. It is January 4, 1972 and he will soon discover what he has just returned from is nowhere near the extent to which he will be fighting for his life and sanity over the year ahead, as he decides to take a car trip wherever it takes him.

The author has been very consistently in time and place, even speech of the era. Nancy had been working for a multi-millionaire J.B. Fischer before she was killed in Morocco, and was privy to a lot of sensitive information, including incriminating ledgers Fischer had given her to put in her safety deposit box, knowing he was her only beneficiary should she become deceased before him. Therefore it was with real trepidation and fear that he discovered her will had been changed, with John Cassell as residuary devisee. This means that John will receive the contents of the safety deposit box along with anything else that has not been mentioned. So far, John has not been made aware of this.

A frightening scenario is hatched up between Fischer and his cohorts, some very nasty people with loads of resources at their disposal to carry out their evil plan. They can not bump him off within a year because of the year provision. What can they do? Well might you ask! First, Fisher makes Cassell a partner to insure that he will be able to obtain the ledgers on his death, which of course can't happen until the following year.

John, totally aware of none of this except the offer of a partnership, continues his drive and suddenly wakes up in an insane asylum. He soon meets 3 other very diverse occupants who have similar stories, and still not understanding what's going on they draw together in a very strange alliance. It is from this point that their world spins entirely out of control. Here the real evil lurks. Here the plan goes into effect. Here the plan almost works. But unbeknownst to these four they do have two friends working on their behalf undercover. Without this assistance, the story would end here.

This book revels in fear techniques, humor, bravery, and brother/sistership, a lasting friendship, teammates to the end, whatever it may be. Tension, anxiety, terror, and humiliation build up daily as their thinking capacity goes down. If you want a wild ride, roller-coaster action, unique methodology, love of friends, and dire consequences ending in a huge, over-the-top interference of an ending, something that will blow your mind, this book is for you. Relax when our protagonists relax, prepare with them, laugh when they laugh, fight with them, mourn with them, but never forget their strength and their bond. Amazing book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Devilliers County Blues: 1972 picks up where Hell's Quest: 1971 ends. If you haven't read HQ yet, what are you waiting for? I digress, let me return to Devilliers. Once again John finds himself searching for purpose at the start of a new year. He simply wants to find purpose and healing for a torn soul. On his way to an unannounced visit to friends, his life quite literally goes all kinds of crazy.

Our hero finds himself locked up tight in a mental institution, where he is informed of the charges of murder against him. Inside he forms an unexpected alliance that must put aside hatred and misunderstanding if they ever hope to see the light of day again. Soon the improvised teammates discover escape is only the beginning. The truth around them is crazier than they can ever know.

Follow John and his Salt and Pepper Gang as they fight against insanity, the police, the media, and the Mafia. The odds are squarely stacked against them. Surely death is the only way out. You will find yourself wrapped tight at each twist and turn. When the mystery is finally solved, the ending is quite literally explosive. Now you can join the Salt and Pepper Gang and cheer them on as they battle impossible odds. The year 1973 promises to be one to remember, if only anyone lives to see it.

PATRICK RALEY is the author of the mystery, detective novel entitled "Precedent of Justice". Find out why Publisher's Weekly calls him "the next John Grisham."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Format: Paperback. Really enjoyable and fast-reading book. Twists in story line through out.

This is only the second book I've read by this author, however his books I intend, if possible to continue reading ...and reading ...and reading. The last was a full 5 ***** catagory reader, and this one, I would even give higher marks, were it allowed. Amazingly gifted author is a natural storyteller. YOU are missing out if you haven't read a John W. Cassell novel. What lies within? A rapid read (forget the page numbers), a mystery or two and clever ones, a little romance on the side, a decent amount of action, and one loves the characters. TERRIFIC WRITING SKILL. I most probably am going to read the first of his "Island Series" next.. Well done. One of those novels you close upon completing and say "What a book! What a novel!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I truly enjoyed this book even though it is more of a guy's read due to the rough language and dialog. The characters are authentic and draw the reader's empathy because this is a story about brotherhood and how we can learn to love and serve each other. Kudos to the author who is wise and experienced in law and justice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
John W. Cassell is the "Best of the Best" - a great author. He's witty, captivating, makes you cry and most importantly, he makes you laugh. One can never go wrong reading John W. Cassell. And "Devilliers County Blues 1972" is just another wonderful book by this amazing author.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I agree with all that has been said about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. BUT, the scanning was terrible. Sometimes only 4 sentences on a page and then when a chapter ended I had to scroll through 3 or 4 blank pages to get to the next one. Surely it is not too difficult to proof read something before it is offered for sale? My rating is based on lay-out the of the book and not the story.
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on December 12, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The first book I read of John W. Cassell's was the first book in this series -- Crossroads: 1969. Not only was I kept on the edge of my seat half the time, I laughed almost as much. I was hooked! DeVilliers County Blues: 1972 is equally suspenseful and entertaining, dealing with the FBI, politics and organized crime. The man is a master of his craft, accompanied with a wit that aids in breaking the tension of this action-packed thriller. I give it what it richly deserves -- five stars! [...]
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on October 5, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I must agree with the people who are saying that any author who cannot even bother to capitalize proper names, the first word of a sentence, cannot bother to put spaces between words, random capital letters, etc. - well I think I did good, I made it to the end of Chapter 1 before I gave up totally. Thank heavens it was free!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
One day, when the cultural wars are done and the human soul is freed, I'll be able to say with full conviction, "This is a great Day to live."

DEVILLIERS COUNTY BLUES follows the timeframe and march of footsteps of HELL'S QUEST: 1971, and SOLDIER OF AQUARIUS: 1969-1970 (which combines Cassell's CROSSROADS and AN AQUARIAN TRAGEDY), as a great place to kick out into a new way of life, with a fascinating literary hero.

As is obvious from my discussion topic (in the Amazon Shorts forum) toasting John Cassell's HELL'S QUEST: 1971, I've been reading this author's collection of novels for the past few months, following a surge in literary exploration which has caused that forum to evolve into a commentary on each of those novels, as well as into a seminar on novelists talking about their work and writing techniques, including how ghosts, poltergeists, and possession of an author by a quickened character are related concepts.

For the past several years I've been reading mostly mystery novel series as I enjoy the literary depth and continuity there. I escape into novels so thoroughly that I go through a minor grieving process when I finish a good one. Being able to follow a character through several books is a boon to that type of psyche, and to an author like me who also writes books in series.

Prior to becoming addicted to the unique voice of Cassell, I had made a study of Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, reviewing each novel in that series, then moving into his two other mystery series. Through Spenser I enjoyed comparing the 70's to present day, and following various details of the evolution of cultural change beginning in the 70's then pushing heatedly through the 80's, 90's, and 00's.

That craving led naturally, almost uncannily into Cassel's novels, which focus on the 1967-1973 seeding pivotal point of the huge number of philosophical, psychological, sociological changes which we're still sorting through today.

My problem with some of The Literary Classics has always been that reading them depressed me. I was usually left at the end of a read feeling that the best next course of action would be to leap off a cliff. I was always disgusted that such amazing literary skill, such exquisite syntax, such blood-rich character development, such balsamic plot complexity was used to elevate either the artistry of ennui or of horrifying tragedy... concluding with, "Is that all there is?" or "Life is NOT a bowl full of cherries; it is The Pits of Terror and Torture." The GREAT GATSBY was one such. The wordsmithing and storytelling ability in that novel are almost unsurpassable. Yet, I feel nothing but an empty, horrible depression when I get into that book or movie. Even so, Gatsby is one of my favorite examples of a truly good novel.

Too many of the Classics, for me, are the perfect promotions for Prozac. Given a choice, I'd rather read Parker or Cassell and keep my natural chemistry intact.

What I like about that pair is that both authors provide engrossing entertainment, then leave me as a reader with a feeling of being well grounded into reality, including the dark sides, yet ready to work even harder to get what I want out of life and to spark others to do the same with their lives, through my writing.

When I read I seek a spirit lift. I get enough daily drains on my life force from reality. I can't see welcoming them into my mind when I'm wanting the regenerating factor of an escape into an enthralling world created in my mind by another healthy mind.

Somewhat in contrast to all the above, I've been thoroughly drawn into the benefits of the Amazon Shorts program as a way to develop my readership, and to find additional authors I might want to explore. Through reading the short stories and nonfiction essays in the Shorts program, I've discovered that I can sometimes enjoy a "short" break from my usual diet of novels and series. The authors in the Amazon Shorts program are indeed impressive. If not for Amazon Shorts, I might not have discovered the author who has become my favorite, rivaling Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Who is John W. Cassell?

I hope to find other authors whose books possess anywhere near that level of ability to enhance the soul. It'll be a while yet, before I've come to the conclusion of indulging this wallow into the works of a great author stepping out.

I'm honored to say that my blurb has been included in John's latest novel's publication, in good company with other authors raving SOLDIER OF AQUARIUS.

Soon, I hope to be able to compose and post separate reviews on each of Cassell's novels available here on Amazon. Until then, I'll post this overview to stand in admiration of literature worth reading and rereading.

Linda Shelnutt

Morning Comes: the Pre Dawn Blues - Part 1
I'm rereading my own novel available in a 10 part series of Amazon Shorts, MORNING COMES, which holds uncanny thematic parallels to some of John's books, especially AN AQUARIAN TRAGEDY, which I'm now reading, having now read all of the current Cassell collection.
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