Imagine you're in The Exorcist. Linda Blair's head is spinning, pea soup everywhere, and you just *know* that's not coming out of the carpet, and the door opens. You turn to look from your hunkered down position in the corner, expecting the priest, and instead you get a young man in a Russian Great Coat playing a tin whistle. And, even more surprisingly, it works.
That'd be the general idea behind the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey. It's in the same genre as the Dresden Files (para-noir-mal fiction?) *feels clever* It's set in Great Britain, London, to be exact (which makes much sense, since the author is British). The idea is this:
A few years ago, the dead began to rise. I mean, there'd always been ghosts, but now they're *everywhere*. People have adjusted, mostly, learned to live with them. But, of course, sometimes a ghost shows up where it's not wanted, or it goes 'geist' and gets violent. The zombies (ghosts who managed to get back into their old bodies) and loup-garou (ghosts who possess an animal and sort of force the animal body into a resemblance of the shape the soul remembers) are also running around. When the ghosts get bad, or just aren't wanted, people call in exorcists.
Exorcists are people who have a natural talent for sensing ghosts, and through their own personal schtick (it varys from exorcist to exorcist) binding them and shuffling them off the mortal coil. Felix 'Fix' Castor is one of those - he plays a tin whistle to do it (but some play drums, pray, one guy used card tricks). When the books start, Fix has quit the exorcist gig because of a job that went bad, and is trying to make a living using some of his other talents. But then he gets a call for one last job. Should be easy, in a museum and all, but things go pear shaped, of course. :)
So far I've read three of the five books in the series and am working on getting my hands on the next two, but because they're British books, there's a delay in getting them into the states. :-p
I picked them up because of the author, and I haven't been disappointed. Mike Carey started out in comics, and he still writes them. My *favorite* of his comics is Lucifer. He's worked on Hellblazer though, which is also great, and Crossing Midnight. The Lucifer comic is actually a 'spin-off' from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series (which, by the way, *everyone* should read. It's a work of art, I am not kidding you).
Lucifer, in Sandman, abandons his post as King of Hell. There's a long, delicious story behind this, but I'm trying not to *tell* everyone what happens. The comic series Lucifer picks up after that point - Lucifer and his general Mazikeen are running a piano bar called Lux. The series revolves around Lucifer's 'restful retirement' and how, of course, it doesn't turn out that way at all - the angels in Heaven, for instance, have no idea what to do now that Lucifer's not fighting with them anymore, and sort of go pick a fight of their own. Lucifer runs into other demons and demigods and gods that he's pissed off over the ten million years of his being a pain in the ass of everyone and fight/outwits all of them. Part of the series deals with the relationship between Lucifer and his brother Michael (yes, that'd be the archangel Michael) - they're sort of twins...created at the same time and of equal power.
Lucifer (or Samael) in the comics is a dashing, gentleman-devil figure. It's not so much that he's powerful, though he is, but that he's clever and smooth. He's pure, unadulterated will power - he does what he wants, when he wants, any way he wants. He and Michael were created to work together - Michael provides the raw material and Lucifer the will to do something with it.
In the series, Lucifer's always sort of been a rebel. There's one scene that's supposed to be right before the moment God creates earth where God is telling Samael and Michael what they're going to do (they do the actual work creating stuff - Michael provides raw material, Samael forms it - he's got all the imagination) and Samael basically says, 'Wait, wait, hold up a second. *Why* should we do what you say? We're really powerful so why should we listen to you?' and God replies, 'Because I'm *more* powerful. I *created* you.' and Samael sort of mulls it over and says, 'I accept your reasoning. For now.' So, y'know, it's hardly a surprise when he refuses to bow down to a less powerful type of being later on.
Part of what I love about Lucifer in the comics (and what I *know* the Supernatural writers are borrowing from) is this: 'when the devil wants you to do something, he doesn't lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to hell.' He just provides the options - it's *our choice* over whether we listen to him or not.
I own almost the entire series in original comics - plus I have the three issue mini start started in, The Sandman comics in trade form, a one shot, and two of the trades for Lucifer. I'm not obsessed. Really. :)