Monday, 18 May 2015

Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries edited by Stephen Jones

As soon as I saw the words Detectives and Supernatural in the same sentence, I was definitely game to read this book. Some of the most well-known literary sleuths, including C. Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes, have been called upon to investigate some strange and unusual cases, and often find a completely logic answer. 

This collection of stories takes that theme with the view that some mysteries cannot be solved by logic alone. The authors are Kim Newman, Peter Tremayne, William Hope Hodgson, Basil Copper, Manly Wade Wellman, Brian Lumley, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Brian Mooney, Clive Barker, Jay Russell and Neil Gaiman.

I really enjoyed the introduction that outlines nearly 200 years of fictional detectives in literature along with their loyal sidekicks and their most famous of cases. There were so many that I hadn’t heard of, I kind of feel that I’ve missed out on so much of a unique genre and this anthology helps to bridge that gap. 

There are 18 short stories in this collection. Seven Stars by Kim Newman is one large story split into 8 instalments, spanning a number of decades and detectives. Seven Stars also happened to be my favourite of the tales, as I liked how the case was ongoing but tackled by varying investigations. 

The spectrum of detectives is enthralling. There are policemen, PIs and psychics to name but a few, each aided by some kind of sidekick, such as a priest, a doctor or a fellow officer of the law. I sometimes feel a bit sorry for the sidekick who is often just a patronised, loyal, sounding-board for the lead character, who gets dragged along on some dangerous escapade and gets little to none of the praise or credit when the mystery is solved. 

Speaking of danger, there is plenty involved in these stories. Whether it is from something undead, very human, or even unexplainable, there are many adversaries to be faced and heaps of excitement to be had across all the stories. In this collection, the way most of the stories tie in with or follow on from each other flows really well and keeps you engaged with each account. There is also some cool artwork courtesy of Randy Broecker breaking up the tales and reminding you of the themes of the book. 

With numerous interesting characters and strange cases stretching from ages past to a futuristic landscape, there is something for everyone. If weird crime and mysteries are already your thing, or if you want to try out this unique genre, then Dark Detectives is the anthology for you. 

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