WE INTERRUPT OUR PROGRESS ON SERIES to bring you a special review. What makes it special? Well, a dude I know wrote it. That's not a first around here, but it's certainly notable. Plus, look at that cover! What's not to like about it?
Necessary Evil and the Greater Good is a novel about Heaven and Hell, Purgatory and Truth or Consequences, NM, Greek and Norse gods, and a Scottish terrier named Sir Reginald Pollywog Newcastle III. There are also a couple of human beings in the mix, but the real story is about Leviticus and Mestoph, the angel and demon characters who are hoping to bring about the end of the world with a couple of stolen items -- namely, an omen and a prophecy. If that doesn't interest you in the story, then I don't know what else to tell you.
The story is quirky and irreverent, but it still manages to have a seriousness about it that keeps it from being a satire or parody. It also moves quickly. The events in the novel are tied together in a way to keep the characters moving from place to place, but none of it feels random. Everything builds off of what's come before, and even when a new character is introduced to the story, it's done in such a way that he doesn't just appear out of nowhere. It helps that the story involves a prophecy and other spiritual machinations, but even then, Ingle doesn't rely on that as a way to explain away what is otherwise a random event.
There's also a dark sense of humor running beneath the events, with one character serving as comic relief and antagonist at the same time. In fact, there's a running gag that kept cracking me up, despite the fact that this was a books about bringing about the end of the world. There were many points in the novel where I found myself chuckling at an event or turn of phrase, and after reaching the halfway point in the book, I felt like I was in good hands. To give you an example, one chapter is titled "The Beginning of the Beginning of the Middle of The End," which makes perfect sense if you know the story.
The novel is a self-published effort, and suffers from some issues that are outside of the story itself (typos, weird formatting issues, and a lack of page numbers, despite having a table of contents that directed you to said page numbers), but otherwise it's one of the better self-published efforts I've read. I think the characterization of the two human characters could have been stronger, but the rest of the characters seemed real and alive to me, and besides, the humans weren't really the central characters anyway. Overall, it reminded me a little bit of how American Gods would have been if Quentin Tarantino had directed a movie version of it.
I'm not sure if it would be the kind of book for everyone, but if you don't mind a little irreverence in your theological novels, then I'd definitely recommend it.