________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 30 . . . . April 8, 2011


Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives.

Justin Gustainis, ed.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2011.
221 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-48-7.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery stories, American.
Occult fiction, American.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Marla wore black, loose fitting pants and a snug top that kept her arms free, the better to aim the specially modified sniper rifle she cradled. Rondeau was dressed like an extra in a movie about a special forces operation, all black padded vest and a helmet and night vision goggles (which he found more fun than Marla's more practical magical night vision). He persistently referred to their operation as "playing dress up," which was annoying, but Marla knew she could rely on him in a pinch--and he had a backup rifle, albeit less fancy than the weapon Marla held. They were on the dark balcony of a charming little pied a terre a few blocks from where the beast and Malkin had appeared. The apartment's rightful residents were off in Aspen or something, wherever rich ordinaries spent early spring.

"What if the dart doesn't work?" Rondeau said. "We got a plan B?"

"I throw you to the beast, and while he's dismembering you, I sneak around and hit him on the head with the rifle butt."

"That's always your plan B."
(From "Little Better Than a Beast.")

Those Who Fight Monsters is a fantasy/horror anthology, a collection of urban supernatural cases representing original stories about detectives or characters based on existing series. Opening with an introduction by the editor, entitled "Down These Mean Crypts a (Wo)Man Must Walk," and followed by 14 quite varied tales, the book contains 221 pages of mayhem and magic.

      The first story, "Little Better Than a Beast," (A Marla Mason story) follows the chief sorcerer of the New English town of Felport, who finds herself facing both an immortal beast that was sent forward in time and an obnoxious former chief sorcerer who wants her job.

      "Dusted" (A Cosa Nostradamus Story) follows a private investigator who is not entirely human, and who takes on the case of a missing girl. His usual suspects just happen to be the gnomes living beneath New York.

      The next tale, "The Demon You Know," (A Demon Hunting Soccer Mom Story) has the teenage daughter Allie telling her mother a little white lie so she can go to a party with some friends. Mother has to come to the rescue.

      "The Spirit of the Thing" (A Nightside Story) is set in a dark version of London, England. The protagonist, John Taylor, is a private eye who is hired to rid a bar of a ghost who is disturbing the patrons.

      The next offering in the collection, "Holding the Line," (A Jill Kismet Story), follows a hunter in the American Southwest who likes bullwhips, 45s, and breakfast burritos. She responds to a request for assistance from another hunter and finds herself in the middle of a blood soaked rescue mission.

      "Defining Shadows" (A Detective Jessi Hardin Story) has the heroine, a homicide detective with the Denver Police and head of the Paranormal Unit, faced with the lower half of a corpse, cut off at the waist, and still standing.

      In the next story, "Deal Breaker" (A Quincey Morris Story), the plot revolves around an occult investigator who comes up against the good old-fashioned problem of a man who may have sold his soul to the devil. Payment is now due.

      The following story, "See Me" (A Smoke and Shadows Story), takes readers to the set of a vampire detective television series being shot in Vancouver. The second assistant director just happens to be a wizard. His partner seems quite taken with a very dangerous young lady.

      "Soul Stains" (A Vampire Babylon Story) has as its protagonist Dawn Madison, a former Hollywood stunt woman who is retired from vampire hunting. She assists a paranormal detective when he is investigating why an old time glamourous movie star has apparently risen from the dead.

      Next readers encounter "Under the Hill and Far Away" (A Black London Story) where Petunia Caldecott, a former Metropolitan Police Detective inspector, is summoned by the Fae, who live beneath the city, to solve a murder. She reluctantly takes the case.

      The next tale is "An Ace in the Hole" (A Sazi Story), and it follows Tony Giodone, a former hit man and now a werewolf, who works for an unusual police force. He has been summoned to Calgary on a case involving some very nasty folk.

      "Hell Bound" (A Hell on Earth Story), involves Jezebel, a succubus with sex on her mind, who runs into difficulty with an assignment involving what she believes should be a simple seduction.

      The second last tale in the collection, "Impossible Love" (A Piers Knight Story), follows a quiet museum curator who gets involved with a friend and his friend's young daughter who suffers from Down syndrome. He tries an unusual cure.

      The final entry in the anthology is "Running Wild" (An Outcast Season Story) that tells of a former Genie, now trapped in human form, who goes hiking with a friend and tangles with some unusual creatures in the desert of New Mexico.

      Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives will appeal to lovers of horror and fantasy, especially those who follow any of the series on which these tales are based. These stories might even whet readers' appetites to find the full length books that feature the stories' central characters. Monsters of many different stripes and scales lurk through the pages. The stories contain humor, murder and mayhem, some sexual content, and a sprinkling of four letter words. Well written, and with enough variety of characters and plots to keep fans amused in the dark hours.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.