K.J. Parker’s Inside Man

Once upon a time, Joss Whedon launched a little blockbuster named Avengers and, in one of a billion interviews, spoke of how the faceless people in black masks holding automatic weapons and carelessly broken by superheroes were actually important, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Those little people have stories to tell. They can push the drama in new and exciting directions, if you let them. It’s potent writing advice and you can tell KJ Parker was thinking along the same lines, if not taking it to heart. 

Inside Man is the story of one of those little people; a no account demon whose job it is to possess clergy’s minds. An oddball on light duty because of a crack up in the past, his status doesn’t bother him. According to The Plan, he can’t screw up anything because no matter what happens, he is contributing to His will–even in all of his wickedness. 

There’s only one problem: the demon doesn’t believe there IS a plan. Maybe that’s because he spent a few decades stuck inside a psychopath’s brain who perpetually beat the tar out of him. Maybe it’s just because the plan is a bunch of baloney.

The simplest explanation is almost always correct, and the deeper you dig for the purpose of The Plan, the more you are likely to realize, if there is someone in charge, there’s a good chance they don’t know what they are doing. And if it all goes perfectly according to the divine plan, well, we are destined to live a sort of Huck Finn, who-cares-if-I-do-right-or-wrong kind of world, aren’t we?

Witty, fun, and surprisingly philosophical in a way that will ring true to anyone who has had their doubts, K.J. Parker’s Inside Man is one of those rare books I wish I could give to my devout parents. Just to see what happens. 

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