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Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran – review
Paranormal investigators. Occult detectives. Ghost hunters. Monster fighters. Humans who unravel uncanny crimes and solve psychic puzzles; sleuths with supernatural powers of their own who provide services far beyond those normal gumshoes, shamuses, and Sherlocks can. When vampires, werewolves, and things that go “bump” in the night are part of your world, criminals can be as inhuman as the crimes they commit, and magic can seep into the mundane – those who solve the mysteries, bring justice, or even save the world itself, might utter spells, wield wands as well as firearms, or simply use their powers of deduction. Some of the best tales of the last decade from top authors of the 21st century’s most popular genres take you down mean streets and into strange crime scenes in this fantastic compilation.
As this is an anthology, instead of my usual review format, I’ve noted the ones I enjoyed, didn’t, etc., with reasons.
“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs – Even having read this one before, probably my most favorite of this anthology. Heartwarming, sweet, a touch scary and built with good characters and plot.
“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks – I really liked this one, as I am fond of Japanese mythology and especially the kitsune, and the story was interesting for itself as well.
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter – Very good introduction to the Skinwalker series and some of the characters. Not a whole lot of mystery, but they do have to find out where the bad guys are so that they can get them.
“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green – I’ve never liked the Nightside stories, and this is a perfect example of why. The main is unintelligent and unlikeable, and the other characters seem wooden.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark – There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of plot in this one, and it was pretty much just an odd story. Probably the least like Sherlock Holmes of all the stories I’ve read outside of canon – especially as his deductions didn’t seem logical.
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris – I’m not a fan of this series as a whole, and this story didn’t make me want to go back and try again. It started out as a simple mystery – almost a locked room puzzle – but turned into a ‘how cool are vampires’ essay with a bit of sex thrown in for color. Reaffirmed my disliking of the series.
New to me author I’m going to check out: Bradley Denton who was the author of “The Adakian Eagle,” which was an interesting study of military thinking, deduction, and leverage.
“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan – A friend once told me that the last short story of any urban fantasy-related anthology is always pornographic. She wasn’t far off the mark this time. If the object in question hadn’t been a magic dildo, stolen and then used in an erotic ritual, it might have been a good story, because the set up and characters were good. Unfortunately, it had me rolling my eyes and shaking my head.
Notes on some of the other stories not mentioned above:
“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear – A very good story, if a bit grim. “The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick – I found the Jewish information very interesting, but the detective story left a bit to be desired.
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher – Even though I’m a huge Dresden fan, this one isn’t one of my favorites. It wasn’t a bad story, but it wasn’t as fun as most Dresden stories are.
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod – not a bad little story, but no detective work goes on at all, and there really isn’t even a mystery there.
“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman – A cute little story but with not much to recommend it as a mystery, as there isn’t any true mystery and no detecting being done. The main has completed a lot of research off camera, but this is more like a riddle for the reader to follow to completion. I liked it, but it didn’t seem to fit within the parameters of the anthology as set out in the title.
“See Me” by Tanya Huff – I haven’t read any of the series that this short was based upon, and I was quite a bit lost with the characters. It was a good story with good characters; I just didn’t have the background, but I liked what I could follow of it.