I’m in two minds about this one; on the one hand the characters and the mystery are good, but on the other the ending feels rushed and certain important parts of the world feel a little underdeveloped. That said, in general Even Though I Knew the End was a fun, fast read.
In a world that resembles Dashiell Hamnet if he wrote vaguely Christian supernatural detectives, Helen is a former rising start in the magic world, cast out when she tried to summon a demon to bring her family back to life, who makes her living as a detective for hire. She’s presented with a case that turns out to be too spooky and gruesome for her, but then her employer makes her the proverbial offer she can’t refuse: Helen, who lost her soul to the demon she bargained with about a decade ago, can win back her soul and thus the life/future she desperately would like to have with her beloved Edith if she solves the White Vampire serial murders in three days. Why three days? That’s how much time Helen has before the demon comes to claim her for hell under the terms of the bargain she made. Besides the murder investigation, Helen also has to deal with keeping Edith safe, her beloved brother who isn’t really speaking to her and the magician group he belongs to that she also used to be a part of, and the handful of secrets (mostly pretty major) that she uncovers as the investigation proceeds.
Helen is pretty interesting to follow; she’s got the abilities and the general work ethic to be a great magician except that she also really doesn’t apologize for the whole proverbial Faustian bargain (and yes, there is more than one allusion to that if you care to look). The problem is, that besides Elaine, no one else has that much page time, and especially Teddy (the brother) could really benefit from some character development to explain some of what happens near the end. My other smallish complaint is that the title was a little bit too true; I saw half the main twist in the end coming a mile away and I was mostly right on that part.
I would have really liked this to be a bit longer than it was so that the thin spots could be filled in. The ending works, but without some of the details about certain figures and parts of the magic system and the world of the story, it feels kind of rushed and incomplete. Overall I enjoyed this read; the plot is pretty non-stop action the whole time, some characters get the depth they need, and the mystery is creepy without going too far into the horror aspects (which it could pretty easily do).