Hands of Lucifer (1987) by John Tigges

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A woman gets dumped by her boyfriend, so she casts a satanic spell to get him back. Unfortunately for her, the demon sent to assist her in the endeavour is also somewhat clingy. Enter a succession of hapless priests, until one of them does what any good priest should in this situation: an exorcism.

The name of John Tigges decorates many a lurid cover from Leisure Books, and most seem to deal with satanic themes. Hands of Lucifer is obviously no exception, but surprisingly it’s nowhere near the hackshow one might expect. This is not a serious novel about demonic forces, rather almost a parody of one – William Friedkin’s 1973 movie The Exorcist is referenced several times in a joking manner, and there’s even a scene where Myles the boyfriend browses Tigges’ previous paperbacks at a drugstore and asks aloud who would write such stuff, never mind what kind of people might read them. And the manifestations of the demonic forces are hilarious. A special shout out must go out to the scene where the invisible demon’s helping hands grab on to Myles’ butt during sex.

The characters are obviously idiots, especially the lovelorn woman who brings about the whole situation on herself and all around her. Myles the man is hardly any better, and it’s somewhat interesting how he doesn’t seem to care too much about the lover who gets pulverized by the demon summoned by his jealous ex. And most of the priests are apparently in competition for America’s Worst Clergyman. All this, however, seems to be done on purpose and serves to accentuate the ridiculousness of the story, not only in this novel but also in others of the genre. John Tigges was a competent storyteller who clearly didn’t take himself or his lurid subject matter too seriously, and he must’ve had fun writing Hands of Lucifer. The humour is still there, between the lines.

**** (4/5)