Felix Castor has a unique gift - he can not only see ghosts, he can cause them to leave this plane thorough music. He earns his living piping away the troubled dead, but is still haunted (so to speak) by his one horrendous failure, which trapped a good friend in a psychiatric hospital, irrevocably entangled with and possessed by a demon.
When he's asked by a pair of bereft parents to find the ghost of their daughter (rather than the more usual pleas from parents hoping their child isn't actually dead), it seems like a relatively straightforward, albeit strange, case. But Castor quickly finds himself at odds with the police, in conflict with a shady fellow exorcist, and embroiled in a plot to liberate one of the worst demons extant (a word that I, til this very minute, always thought was 'exactant').
An interesting spin on the now-well-trodden field that is paranormal genre, this is a sequel to The Devil You Know, which I quite enjoyed. However, I found Vicious Circle a little too baroque and convoluted. Perhaps I was having a dim couple of days, perhaps I've just overindulged in the genre of late, and the fact that it is now over a week since I read it doesn't help, but rather than having a clear picture of the plot and the characters I have a melange of wheels within wheels, a tin whistle, ghostly girls, possessed young men, and pissed off coppers.
There were a few nice touches ("How do you spell 'Peace'?" "Like the kind you've got to give a chance to."), but also a little too much of the scene-setting journey detail I'm growing to seriously hate ("I drove south down Wood Lane, vaguely intending to cut down Hammersmith and Fulham and cross the river at Battersea...").
I'll probably give Carey another go, but only if the library, rather than Reader's Feast, have it in stock. - Alex