The latest New Age rant from Quinn (Beyond Civilization, 1999, etc.) includes Chicago gumshoe Howie Scheim’s toughest case: tracking down the devil.
He’s had a lot of aliases down the years (Beelzebub, Baal, Moloch), and Quinn adds a few more (Yoo-Hoo, most memorably). Howie Scheim doesn’t normally take on missing devil cases, but this time a dying Chicago millionaire named Aaron Fischer gives him twenty grand for the work, with the promise of another fifty once he finds his man. Aaron can’t help wondering about all those times in the Old Testament when the Jews abandoned the God of Israel to worship Baal and Ashtaroth and whoever else. The Israelites were not dumb, after all, so Aaron wants to know: What did they see in these false gods? What had they to offer? Howie thinks Aaron has bats in his belfry from the start, but twenty grand is twenty grand, so off he goes. First stop is an old pal at the Trib, who puts him in touch with a psychic, who puts him in touch with a clairvoyant, who puts him in touch with a Satanist, and so on—the usual networking, but in a very different network. Howie learns early on that there’s a lot more going on here than he would have been willing to grant at the start. For one thing, all our ideas about spirituality and God have been deformed by the established secular and religious authorities. Satan is not an evil spirit; he is the incarnation of courage and daring. In fact, he’s not really Satan at all—his name is Pablo, and he’s a nice guy who has always had a soft spot in his heart for humanity. And, yes, Howie does get to meet him.
This could have been a great exercise in high camp—except for the fact that the author seems in deadly earnest.