Simon K. Unsworth


Simon Kurt Unsworth is a British supernatural author, born in Manchester in 1972. He is the author of the upcoming THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE, which is due to be published by Del Rey (UK) and Doubleday (US) in 2015. His most recent collection of short stories is the critically-acclaimed QUIET HOUSES, which was long-listed for the Edge Hill Short Story Collection prize. Simon’s second anthology, STRANGE GATEWAYS, is due to be published in 2014.

Simon has written extensively in horror, and had a number of short stories published in leading genre publications. His short story ‘The Church on the Island’ was nominated for the 2008 World Fantasy Award. Some of his work has been published in the following anthologies: Dark Horse’s Lovecraft Unbound, PS Publishing’s Postscripts, Gray Friar Press’s Where the Heart Is, Ashe Tree Press’s At Ease with the Dead, Shades of Darkness and Exotic Gothic 3. In 2014, Simon’s work will appear in his sixth Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthology, and also in The Very Best of Best New Horror.

For more on Simon’s writing, be sure to check out his website.

titles



The Sorrowful Series

  1. THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE
  2. THE DEVIL’S EVIDENCE

covers

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  • Sorrowful: THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE (US, UK)
  • Sorrowful: THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE (Audio Editions)
  • Sorrowful: THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE (US, UK)
  • Sorrowful: THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE (Audio Editions)

translations

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The Sorrowful Series
- THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE - Recorded Books/Random House (US Audio, 2016)
- THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE - Random House (UK Audio, 2016)
- THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE - Del Rey (UK, 2016)
- THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE - Doubleday (US, 2016)
- THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE - Recorded Books/Random House (US Audio, 2015)
- THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE - Random House (UK Audio, 2015)
- THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE - Del Rey (UK, 2015)
- THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE - Doubleday (US, 2015)

reviews

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    • THE DEVIL'S EVIDENCE
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      ‘Unsworth’s conception of a spiritual universe where deeper understanding may itself be the greatest curse is as nuanced and ingenious as his depiction of “poor little Fool,” perhaps the most oddly endearing sleuth to come along in years. The scales are tipped a tad more toward gaudy savagery and gratuitous cruelty than toward more intellectual digressions and plot twists. Still, one suspects Thomas Fool will return, with more respect from readers than from his spiritual jailers. It’s less a whodunit than a ripsnorter, with an emphasis on the ripping. Or maybe the snorting.’  —  Kirkus

      ‘Unsworth’s imagination soars! THE DEVIL’S EVIDENCE is a twisted journey into the afterlife, a dark labyrinth of mystery, and a brilliant contemplation on identity, transgression, and our struggle to recognize that we each make our own heaven and our own hell. A fresh new voice in dark fiction. Don’t miss this series!’  —  Christopher GoldenNew York Times bestselling author of SNOWBLIND and DEAD RINGERS

      ‘Truly a literary gem that plays out as a great mystery series with a one of a kind anti-hero!’  —  BookPeople, Austin, Texas

      ‘The ultimate solution is a fairly clued surprise, and Unsworth’s creative worldbuilding leaves plenty of room for a sequel.’  —  Publishers Weekly

      ‘Do you love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series? How about the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch? Like a bit of John Le Carre intrigue? If so, you will love THE DEVIL’S EVIDENCE. A hybrid between horror fantasy and crime procedural, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s novel had this writer hooked from its first opening, fiery lines… Unsworth has built a very horrible, yet believable universe with characters who you can hate as well as root for. While you don’t need to read the first novel to enjoy the second in the series, we really do recommend you start at the beginning. There’s a lot to take in and a great deal of character development to enjoy. A real page turner. 10/10  —  Starburst

    • THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE
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      ‘Unsworth’s care in constructing an imaginary world enables him to make the most of his debut’s challenging concept: a hard-boiled detective novel set in Hell itself… Unsworth offers intriguing variations on traditional themes and some memorably hair-raising prose…’  —  Publishers Weekly

      ‘A clever spin on the traditional police procedural… Unsworth, a British author of numerous horror and supernatural short stories, makes his book-length debut, and it’s a rousing success. The story is well crafted, and the setting is ingeniously conceived: Hell is a real, tactile place, with a bureaucracy and corporate structure. We’ve seen other novels set in Hell, but we haven’t seen a Hell quite like this. Whether the premise is strong enough to support a series is an interesting question; at the very least, another novel would be most welcome.’  —  Booklist

      ‘With wit, ingenuity and prodigious timing, first-time British novelist Unsworth imagines an unsettling afterlife that at times feels uncomfortably close to some of the more unbearable regions of our waking dreams. The whodunit aspects of this novel may, in the end, be less interesting than the phantasmagorical details surrounding it. But that’s far less a complaint than a compliment of the author’s visionary gifts. A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted.’  —  Kirkus

      ‘Dark and luminous, compelling and insidious, THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is a novel that transcends genre.’ —  Michael Marshall Smith

      ‘Inventive and intriguing – Unsworth turns a journey through Hell into a heavenly read.’  —  Alison Littlewood

      ‘I think this might be the most whimsical murder story ever told. THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is relentlessly creative, fearlessly witty, and completely twisted. Naturally, I loved it.’  —  Chelsea Cain

      ‘Hell as the setting for a noir investigation turns out to be as fun as it sounds in THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE. Inventive and pacy, Simon Kurt Unsworth has created a world – underworld? – distinctly his own.’  —  Andrew Pyper

      ‘The debut novel from prolific short story writer Simon Kurt Unsworth depicts a very modern hell. There’s still suffering but it’s mostly to be found in the drudgery of the daily grind. Gruesome medieval tortures have given way to endless toil, confounding bureaucracy and arbitrary cruelty. Once you accept the logic of this underworld, what follows is an entertaining Dantean spin on the police procedural… Appropriately awash with gore and bodily fluids, THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is damned good.’  —  Financial Times

      ‘There is much to love with THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE. The depiction of Hell is original, with it being less of a torture chamber and more of a place for continued hard work for the unworthy, and the world building is great… The novel is dark and full of twists and originality, and it’s suitable for anyone wanting to get into fantasy with a supernatural element.’  —  Starburst

      ‘What’s best is the tone he hits at making Hell feel like a place devoid of hope in such a regular everyday way that it’s the banality that is ultimately the worst part of it. With a grungy, dismal vibe to the place, and the blah meaningless of people doing thankless tasks for a faceless bureaucracy, it’s kind of like Fool is working for a large corporation in the setting of the movie Seven. It’s an especially nice touch that none of the humans have any memory of who they were or what their sin was. They just know that they did something they deserve to be punished for. The mystery part seemed kind of obvious to me,but there’s still a great ending I didn’t see coming… a clever and unique debut novel that makes me hope we’ll be seeing more from Unsworth.’  —  Kemper’s Book Blog

      THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is a debut novel and I have to say there was a wonderfully dark imagination and vision on show here. The world building for me was the highlight, ferocious and frenzied, violent and brimming with nightmarish demons from the smallest orphans to the scariest monsters wreathed in fire. Humans just existing, playthings for now but the tide will turn, it’s time for change.’  —  Paul Read or Dead

      THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is an audacious, highly suspenseful thriller set against a nightmarish and wildly vivid world. Simon Kurt Unsworth has created a phantasmagoric thrill ride filled with stunning set pieces and characters that spring from our deepest nightmares. It will have readers of both thrillers and horror hanging on by their fingernails until the final word.’  —  Beauty in Ruins

      ‘A compelling, powerful novel… A taut and intelligent mystery, but even if it wasn’t the book would be exceptional for its backdrop. In my reading life I have come across a lot of Hells, but Mr. Unsworth’s is right up there at the top. I have to give it Mr. Unsworth. He has written one of the best books that I have read in a while.’  —  The Bookend Family

      ‘Unlike anything I’ve ever read… Hell is gross. Hell is foul. Hell is a place of suffering, torture, and endless horror, and the author has used it to create a very complete, and superbly built (if highly disturbing) setting for this fantastic mash up of noir police procedural, dark fantasy, and horror… I could not put this book down… Just read this book. It’s a Bosch painting put to the page, yet, strangely, it has heart. It’s definitely on my best of 2015 list, and it deserves a huge audience.’  —  My Bookish Ways

      ‘A gloriously dark and twisted crime story… a masterful blend of horror and crime fiction, set in an evocative, unsettling take on Hell… Unsworth has a great imagination… Unsworth’s real talent is in world-building and generating tension. The Hell in his novel is possibly the best and most unsettling version I’ve read: it’s truly twisted, grim, and utterly brutal… Unsworth’s prose is also excellent – the story flows brilliantly, offering the pacing of a great crime thriller, polished and direct. The mystery at the heart of the story progresses nicely, and the author provides hints and tidbits throughout that never give it away. The ending also promises quite interesting and big things for the sequel (which is in the works).’  —  Civilian Reader

      ‘A richly detailed novel that brims with inventive ideas and clever ambitious writing. Unsworth’s version of Hell has been painted with exquisitely detailed strokes… It says a great deal about the level of Unsworth’s writing when the world building and sense of awe and wonder that can be found in this book far outstrips that found in a novel from a real master of the genre. Hands down THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is a far more satisfying read than Barker’s Scarlet Gospels… Fool’s journey from a somewhat nervous and insecure cipher to a man on a mission is handled with great care and attention, which makes for a very strong lead character… one of those rare breeds of a horror novel that manages to escape from the genre and appeal to much wider audience. The balance between the genre trappings and tropes of both horror and crime is perfectly balanced.’  —  Ginger Nuts of Horror

      THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE grips. Unsworth’s storytelling is taut and lean, avoiding any lapses into potboiler… When he writes about Hell, he makes it downright hellish… The book eventually spins all this admittedly sumptuous horror into thought-provoking notions about salvation, hope and free will’  —  NPR

      ‘Much as the title suggests, THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is a horror riff on classic tropes of hard-boiled fiction. The book neatly straddles the bridge between horror fiction and crime, accumulating influences from both sides culminating in a horrific take on the police procedural… a rich, layered book full of lyrical prose and cutting description… Aside from the stellar world building on display, there are also a number of intriguing and well written characters… THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is a strong, confident debut novel from Simon Kurt Unsworth. His prose is relentlessly grim, yet colourful and lyrical in its own way. Unsworth’s bleak novel is punctuated by dark humour and effusive, garish descriptions. His prose swaggers forward and carries the plot and the reader along with it. Unsworth’s work has shown a clear progression over the course of his career, culminating in this layered, fascinating first novel that will put readers firmly in mind of Clive Barker as they indulge in the gorgeous detail of Hell and all of its squalid denizens. THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE is an ambitious yet accomplished piece of work that will leave the reader not only wanting more Thomas Fool but hoping against hope that the reality of Hell isn’t anywhere near as bad as the version in Unsworth’s imagination.’  —  This Is Horror

      ‘A dark tale, filled with noir-like atmosphere, imaginative and intelligent in its development. I liked the at-times lyrical prose, the subtle characterisation and the rather unremittingly grim setting, the juxtaposition of which suggests that if/when we move onto other planes of existence there might just be hope – in the right circumstances. It’s not a place I’d personally like to stay, but I enjoyed this visit.’  —  SFF World

      ‘The world building here is phenomenal – and the creativity and imagination? Outstanding! The pacing was fast and the mystery intriguing… This tale was impressive, intricate and imaginative. I’m looking forward to a sequel… This visually striking imagery put me in mind of Clive Barker’s work… Highly recommended…’  —  Horror After Dark