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Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives
edited by Justin Gustainis
Edge Books, 221 pages

Those Who Fight Monsters
Justin Gustainis
Justin Gustainis was born in Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton. After earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He currently lives in Plattsburgh, NY. where he is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University.

Justin Gustainis Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

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Inducing suspension of disbelief is the necessary requirement for any work of fiction. This is especially true for stories dealing with the supernatural or the paranormal. But when the supernatural issue is addressed by a "detective," who has to use his skill to analyze and deduce (that is, to use rationality to explain the irrational), things become even more difficult and only great writers can manage to achieve and maintain the required suspension of disbelief.

In the past, various fine authors of supernatural fiction have created famous characters of sleuths investigating the occult and the paranormal. Dr. Hesselius by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, physician extraordinary and Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin, just to mention a few, are perfect examples of the genre.

The contributors to Those Who Fight Monsters, devoted to the theme of occult detectives fighting against monsters and other supernatural creatures, try to follow the steps of their distinguished predecessors, but alas, with all due respect, they can't live up to the hard task of producing good and credible stories in this challenging area.

Variety is not a problem: the detectives featured in this book includes both males and females, humans and nonhuman creatures, cops and criminals, gays and heterosexuals, professional sleuths and simple amateurs. Quality, however, is often a problem and plausibility is mostly lacking. Thus, I must confess that in many instances I found myself unable to remember the content of the stories only a few hours after I had finished reading them.

On the other hand there are a few tales which really stand up.

To me the best story in the anthology is by far Tim Pratt's "Little Better than a Beast," an extremely enjoyable, well written piece where the sorcerer Merla Mason has to fight against a formidable beast from the past as well as against an annoying fellow wizard.

Another excellent tale is "Deal Breaker" by editor Justin Gustainis, an ingenuous, captivating variation on the theme of the pact with the Devil.

Julie Kenner contributes "The Demon You Know," a breathtaking adventure of the demon-hunting mom Kate Connor struggling to save her own daughter.

I'm afraid I cannot recommend much else in the book, unless you're a confirmed fan of paranormal fiction endowed with a very strong ability to suspend (or abolish) your disbelief.

Copyright © 2011 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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