Cover image for I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver

Title: I Shot The Devil
Author: Ruth McIver
Genre: Thriller
Published: 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia

Five went into the woods. Two never came back.

Set amongst the heady mix of adolescence and the Satanic panic of the mid-90s, I Shot The Devil is a ripped-from-the-headlines mystery from debut author Ruth McIver.

On a Halloween night in 1994, high schooler Andre Villiers was murdered by his group of friends. But he wasn’t the only victim that night. As Erin Sloane begins to reminisce about that night 16 years later, more details emerge and paint a picture of corruption, secrets and unimaginable violence.

Ricky Hell is the epitome of the dark, mysterious newcomer. Clad in studded leather and a bad-boy attitude, he enters the lives of Carole, Cormac, Danny, Erin and Andre and makes an impression that none of them will forget.

Erin Sloane returns to her hometown as a journalist, tasked to write a story about the ‘Southport Three’ murders. Whilst she remembers some of what happened, her excessive drug-taking and the years gone by have washed away much of the finer details. She must find the remaining Southport Three and get their sides of the story.

Erin is a relatively unknown player in the story of the murders, with the more infamous members of the friend group – Carole, Danny and Cormac – making the news. That being said, she is an integral part of the murders, and her insider knowledge proves helpful when it comes to solving who really killed Ricky Hell and Andre Villiers that night.

I enjoyed the way in which the story was split between Erin’s point of view and excerpts of Cormac’s memoir, Resident Alien. The two stories provide a richer storytelling experience, playing into the unreliable narrator trope, which I always enjoy. The story is quite a slow burn, taking the reader along for the investigative journey as Erin discovers clues to the real story of Ricky’s murder. That being said, I found the plot twists fell short and were not as impactful as they could have been. I feel as though this comes down to the fact that this is the author’s debut, as it takes nuance and writing experience to craft punchy, shocking plot twists. The rest of the plot feels rich and realistic, and it was as if I was reading a recollection of a true crime story – which I’m always a sucker for!

I found the plot to be paced well, providing small tidbits of information at intervals that kept me wanting more. I was hooked, and the writing made it feel as though this was a true story – so much so, that I found myself wanting to Google the case and spoil it for myself. I found the author’s talent for creating a rich setting similar to that of Taylor Jenkins-Reid, albeit in a different genre.

If you’re a true crime fan like myself, I highly recommend picking this up. Furthermore, the audiobook has outstanding production value so I recommend listening to it on audio for a more immersive experience.

Underground Team
editors.underground.writers@gmail.com

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