I’ve felt compelled to write a review of Victor LaVelle’s The Devil in Silver after finishing it two weeks ago. But, for once, I don’t even know where to begin. I spent the first 75% of the book cursing it all to hell. Musing aloud to my coworkers whether I was even going to finish it and then ultimately picking it up again each evening because I couldn’t not find out what happened. Now, having finished it, I feel like I need a support group for the profound sense of “WTF!” I feel.


The story itself is very “A Clockwork Orange”, complete with mental institution politics and a sense overwhelming anxiety. After Pepper is brought to New Hyde Mental Hospital for beating a man up, he’s sentenced to a simple 72 hour “watch,” where his mental state will be evaluated. Why, then, is he still under lock months later? Why do patients keep going missing? Is it really the Devil that’s roaming the halls at night? If Pepper sees him too is he just as insane as the rest of the patients, or are they all unjustly being kept under surveillance? These are just some of the questions that battered my hamster wheel of a brain at night. Each time I thought I could walk away from the book, I just couldn’t. Each time I thought I maybe knew what was happening, I’d rollercoaster upside up and end up scratching my head like a dumbfounded Curious George.

The majority of the book reads as a monotonous day in the life of a mental patient. Pepper wakes up, receives his morning meds and then drools his way through breakfast and lunch with his closest companions Dory, Coffee and Loochie. (Which, I just have to point out are the most misfit gang of friends you’ve ever heard of.) It’s these characters that keep you going back for more, because no-one wants to read 300 pages of a zonked out pill junkie. Dory is essentially the schizophrenic “grandmother” of the whole ward. She’s forever keeping an eye out for the other patients and makes it a point to be the first person new admits meet. She’s sweet and crazy and you’ll fall in love with her. Then you realize there’s a link between her and the “Devil” that’s tormenting patients at night and it’ll make you flip your lid. Next is Coffee, an OCD ridden nut ball who’s convinced he’s going to get in touch with the president who will, in turn, release all the patients of New Hyde due to unjust living conditions. Coffee will drive you slightly crazy, but in the end he’s a good guy. My personal favorite is Loochie; the teen girl from Queens, NY that compulsively pulls her own hair out and can give the big and burly Pepper a run for his money when it comes down to physical altercations. She looks sweet but she’s a quick-tongued heathen who should make all women proud.

This gang of questionably “insane” patients decide it’s time to fight back. Are they fighting the system of corruption? Are they simply fighting the Devil behind the silver door of the 3rd corridor? Or are they fighting their own mental urges? The Devil in Silver takes us beyond the halls of New Hyde and leaves us questioning our society, our terrifying health care system and truthfully, our own sanity. A surprisingly philosophical tale, this novel made me want to both run away in fear and dually square up and look it straight in the eye. After all is said and done, I’d recommend this title and anything by LaVelle without hesitation.

It’s a rare find, but give us a call to see if we have The Devil in Silver in stock. If not, any one of our employees likely has a list of recommendations to make your end-of-summer reading the best it can be. Enjoy this title and many others from our horror section.