Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: Weird Detectives

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations, edited by Paula Guran, is another anthology from my son's book collection. This one was loaned to me and I am checking out the stories. The detectives in these stories are in some way involved with the supernatural. I have read cross-genre novels combining mystery and either fantasy or science fiction, and enjoyed them, but I wasn't so sure about short stories in that area.

I skipped the first story in the collection, "The Key" by Isla J. Bick. It was about a dead baby, and I wasn't reading that type of story on that day. Maybe I will come back to it. 

I moved on to the second story, "The Nightside, Needless to Say" by Simon R. Green. This was a story from Green's Nightside series, which stars John Taylor. The author describes the Nightside as "the secret, sick, magical heart of London. A city within a city, where the night never ends and it's always three o'clock in the morning. Hot neon reflects from rain-slick streets, and dreams go walking in borrowed flesh. You can find pretty much anything in the Nightside, except happy endings."

Taylor does not show up in this story but another character from the series does, Larry Oblivion.  Larry Oblivion is dead; he wants to figure out who killed him, and seeks revenge. This was a brief story (10 pages) and it was light, clever, and fun.

I skipped "The Adakian Eagle" by Bradley Denton, because it was novella length, but I will definitely come back to that one. It appears to be a World War II detective story with a supernatural element.

I then read "The Case of the Stalking Shadow" by Joe R. Lansdale. I have only read one short story by Lansdale, and none of his novels, but I have heard a lot of praise for his writing. I did enjoy this one a lot. The author's style of storytelling drew me in.

The main character is Dana Roberts; she tells about her first encounter with the supernormal, which lead to her becoming a detective of the supernormal. She and her cousin Jane both sense an evil presence in the woods near their aunt's house when they are children. When they are in college they return to the site of that experience to see if it is still there. 

The last story I read was "Hecate's Golden Eye," a novelette by P. N. Elrod. It stars Jack Fleming, a vampire detective, who has interesting gifts that he can use in detection. His partner, Charles Escott, is just a normal man, but they work well together. In this case they have been hired to recover a valuable pendant that has been stolen from their client. The setting is 1937 Chicago; I liked that, and the story has good pacing with several twists and surprises. 

There is a series of novels by Elrod featuring Jack Fleming which I would like to try some day. 

So, having tried several stories in this book, my reaction is positive. I did not run into one I did not like.

The stories were introduced in a way that did not tell too much about the story. In one or two sentences, the case is described. This is followed by a brief description of the detective(s). 

And each story is followed by some notes about the author, which I always like to read. 


Cath said...

Looking at the list of authors on the front page I would be attracted to this automatically I think. Your sampling of the stories all sound intriguing so I think you might be onto a winner there.

George said...

Like Cath, I'm attracted to WEIRD DETECTIVES, too. I'm going to buy a copy Right Now!

Jerry House said...

Any anthology with both Gaiman and Lansdale is worth picking up; the other authors listed on the cover provide the icing on the cake. I/m going to have to read this one.

TracyK said...

Cath, I am looking forward to reading more of the stories in this book. It is a big fat book, about 475 pages, and I like that a good number of the stories are longish.

TracyK said...

George, I hope you do add this to your collection. In the last month (alone) I have purchased two books of short stories on your recommendation: A Century of Mystery 1980-1989 from last week's post, and The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese by Howard Norman from earlier in May.

Margot Kinberg said...

Hmmm....I don't usually go for the supernatural in my stories, Tracy. There's actually only been a few that I enjoyed, if I'm being honest. But the stories do sound interesting, and I'm glad you liked the ones you read. I'll have to think about this one for one of those times when I'm in the mood to stretch out of my 'comfort zone.'

TracyK said...

Jerry, the Gaiman story is a Sherlock Holmes story, which I usually avoid since I haven't read many of the original stories by Conan Doyle. But I may go ahead and read it because it gets good reviews.

TracyK said...

Margot, I probably favor mystery blended with the science fiction genre over mystery and the supernatural, but a lot of the enjoyment in any story is the writing, and I have found these stories to be well written and compelling.

Lark said...

I like the sound of this short story collection because I am a fan of that fun combination of mystery and supernatural. Another draw is that it has a Nightside short story by Green. I love his Nightside series. :)

TracyK said...

I guess I am also a fan too, Lark. And reading the Nightside story made me want to read another novel from Green's Nightside series. I will check with my son to see if he has others.