This book takes you on a wild ride of intrigue and mystery. I was kept on the edge of my seat all through part 2. Part 1 mostly describes the beginning of Bellman's life, and tells you of his undoing by shooting a rook down with a sling shot as a kid. THis haunts him the rest of his life. When he gets older things seem to be going well for him but it seems that someone every few years close to him dies. And at every funeral there is the same man. A mad dressed in all black who nods at him like an old friend. At first I thought this mad was the spirit of the rook. Then one evening, after Bellman's family is ravaged by fever he makes a deal with the man in black, who we come to learn is actually named Black. His only remaining child is on the throws of death, he is ready to hang himself when Black makes an appearance. He doesn't remember what deal they made but suddenly his sickly daughter is alive. Maybe not well, but alive.
Throughout all of part 2 you get a sense of foreboding, when will black return? What will he demand of Bellman? The constant anxiety of this unforeseen figure.
I started to realise that Black may not have been the rook, but the grim reaper when he goes to one of his worker's home's and sees her talking to Black. He asks her about it and she said she'd just been coming back from her infant's grave and bumped into him on the street.
And finally Black comes to Bellman, in his office which he literally lives out of. He welcomes Black in and offers him a drink and tries desperately to offer him money since he believes that the deal he struck up with him for Dora's life must have somehow involved coin. As he rambles Black sits calmly and quietly asks him to remember. Then more forcefully. Suddenly you realise that this is Bellman's life flashing before his eyes and that Black is not the Grim Reaper, simply death itself. Patient. Waiting. And there for him.
Holy shit this book was good. I was on the edge of my seat reading like a madman. I would highly recommend this book and have in fact forced it upon John to read it himself.
Would I re-read it: Yes. Immediately if I could.
Would I recommend it: Yes!
Am I going to keep it: Yes!