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Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

"The Key" by Ilsa J. Blick
"The Nightside, Needless to Say" by Simon R. Green
"The Adakian Eagle" by Bradley Denton
"Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher
"The Case of Death and Honey" by Neil Gaiman
"Cryptic Coloration" by Elizabeth Bear
"The Necromancer’s Apprentice" by Lillian Stewart Carl
"The Case of the Stalking Shadow" by Joe R. Lansdale
"Hecate’s Golden Eye" by P.N. Elrod
"Defining Shadows" by Carrie Vaughn
"Mortal Bait" by Richard Bowes
"Star of David" by Patricia Briggs
"Imposters" by Sarah Monette
"Deal Breaker" by Justin Gustainis
"Swing Shift" by Dana Cameron
"The Beast of Glamis" by William Meikle
"Signatures of the Dead" by Faith Hunter
"Like a Part of the Family" by Jonathan Maberry
"Fox Tails" by Richard Parks
"Death by Dahlia" by Charlaine Harris
"Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell" by Simon Clark
"See Me" by Tanya Huff
"The Maltese Unicorn" by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

“The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick was the story I ended up reading last, because I initially wasn’t going to read all the stories. But since I’d read almost everything else, I flipped back to the start to read this one. This is a story centering on Jewish mysticism. One bit in particular caught my attention:

“We Jews are not like you Christians. We don’t believe that Hashem makes everything better. Hashem can be harsh. Life is sometimes unfair. But we believe that Hashem gives us a fighting chance.

That’s closer to my personal theology than mainstream Christianity, but not quite it.

“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green was a story I’d previously read, but enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I particularly love the little side comments that spike Nightside stories (even though this wasn’t a John Bloody Taylor story–it’s about Larry Oblivion).

We found the big man sitting behind a desk in a surprisingly modest inner office. He was playing solitaire with tarot cards, and cheating.

“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton I’d read relatively recently, and skipped.

“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher I’d read before, but mostly forgotten. I decided awhile ago I much prefer the Harry Dresden short stories to the books. Mostly because the short stories are all mystery, which is what I like best about the Harry stories.

“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman is the kind of story I generally dislike–a Sherlock Holmes story. But, it was Neil Gaiman, so I read it. I’m not going to change my mind about modern writers taking the reigns of Holmes and Watson, but this one wasn’t too bad.

“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear was an odd story, though it was surprisingly dark and depressing. It did have amusing bits, however, was the story that started me reading straight through instead of reading only authors I particularly like. It’s about both a mage hiding in plain sight as an English professor, and three bored young girls who really should have something better to do than moon after their English professor.

“The Necromancer’s Apprentice” by Lillian Stewart Carl was interesting, but it felt like she was really trying to hard with all the period correct insults. It’s a peek at the death of Lord Robert Dudley’s wife–a death that caused a great deal of gossip because of his relationship with Elizabeth the First.

“The Case of the Stalking Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale was a somewhat odd story. It’s a tale of how a young girl found herself on the path to becoming a woman who investigated the supernatural. I quite liked the idea of the laser pointer.

“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod is a story I’d read before. Jack Fleming helps his partner Charles Escott attempt to recover a stolen necklace. I can’t say this is one of my favorite Jack Fleming stories, but it wasn’t terrible.

“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn is set in Kitty’s world, but is not a Kitty story, although Cormac makes an appearance. Instead it’s a story centering on Detective Hardin of the Denver PD Paranatural Unit, who has interacted with Kitty in the past. I quite liked this story, and Detective Hardin, who is investigating half a body discovered in a shed. I vaguely remembered reading this previously, but enjoyed it again.

And I found the “bad guy” completely fascinating.

“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes was an odd story. Set in the 50s, the main character is a WWI vet, which is what drew me into the story. It was not, however, my thing.

“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs was a story that seemed to be set in Mercy Thompsons’ world, but contains none of the characters from that series. This is another story I’d read previously, but one that I very much enjoyed re-reading. The main character is a werewolf who is estranged from his daughter. I really liked this story.

He thought you had to be bleeding someplace to hurt this badly.

Yeah. That’s harsh and true.

“Imposters” by Sarah Monette was an interesting story I hadn’t come across before. It’s a world not quite ours, where magic is the norm, and where people are killing themselves, claiming they imposters in their own bodies. Part of it reminded me of Sergei Lukyanenko‘s Night Watch–the idea of ill-wishing being able to cause harm. Now I kinda want to reread the Night Watch series.

“Deal Breaker” by Justin Gustainis centers on his character Quincey Morris (occult investigator), not Stan Markowski (whose series I’ve been reading). I can’t say much about the character of Quincey Morris, but I very much liked the solution to the problem presented.

I really liked it.

“Swing Shift” by Dana Cameron is the second thing I’ve read by Dana Cameron, and I guess I can now safely say that I simply don’t like her writing. I really LOVE the idea of her vampires and werewolves, and I really want to like her stories, but I just don’t.

“The Beast of Glamis” by William Meikle was another story where the tale was being related after the fact, to a group of listeners. I think this story wanted me to know more British history/Scottish than I do. I can guess as to what the story was alluding to, but my head for dates is really poor, so it’s possible I’m wrong, which I found rather irritating.

“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter is a story I quite like, but had just re-read, so I skipped it.

“Like a Part of the Family” by Jonathan Maberry was… I’m still not sure how I feel about this. It’s a werewolf story set in modern times. I think that perhaps the bit about the main character being a werewolf perhaps was supposed to come as a surprise, but since this was a collection of supernatural mysteries, it wasn’t a surprise.

“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks is set in a mythical Japan, and I’ve read and enjoyed his stories before, but the mix of historical Japanese with noir detective just didn’t work for me. Which is too bad because I liked the mystery, just not the tone of the main character.

“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris I skipped, because I’ve read it several times. It’s actually not a Sookie short story, which means it’s not annoying, but I didn’t find it worth a third read.

“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark I read only because I read the Neil Gaiman Sherlock Holmes story. I think if it wasn’t a Holmes and Watson story I really would have enjoyed it, but as it was supposed to be a Holmes and Watson story… Well, Sherlock Holmes is my comfort reading, and has been since I was a teenager, so I find stories not written by Arthur Conan Doyle to be… unimpressive.

“See Me” by Tanya Huff is a Tony Foster story, and oddly, although I enjoyed her Vicki Nelson series, I’ve never gotten into any of her other characters. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t something I liked.

“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan I quickly gave up on. Possibly because she generally writes horror, and I typically have an irrational dislike of horror. Even though I know a lot of what I do like can be secondarily classified as horror.

Never claimed to be logical.

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10


 
 




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