Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation)
by Justin Gustainis
Angry Robot Books, July 26, 2011
Scranton, PA is home to an assortment of supernatural creatures - weres , vampires, trolls, witches, etc - mostly due to the confluence of magical ley lines that run through the city. Detective Sergeant Stanly Markowski and his partner Kurt Renfer are assigned to the squad that investigate crimes involving "supes". It is the wise cracking Stan who narrates this gripping, humor laced, urban fantasy, crime novel. He works closely with members of SWAT (Sacred Weapons And Tactics unit) and always carries a crucifix, wooden stakes, a large vial of holy water, and a 9 mm Beretta with silver bullets. You can't be too careful!
Stan and Kurt's most recent case involves the wizard George Kulick who suffered brutal torment before finally being murdered. The killer wanted something very badly, but what? After intense investigation the case goes nowhere. Stan decides to enlist the help of a friend, Rachel Proctor, a witch and licensed practitioner of magic. He convinces her to use her knowledge to contact the dead victim which means using the dangerous art of necromancy. Rachel's reluctance was a reasonable response especially considering the terrible consequences that can occur and unfortunately do.
Help of a sort comes from an unexpected source. An elegant, older gentleman by the name of Ernst Vollman, who also happens to be a vampire and a wizard, introduces himself to Stan. He doesn't know who killed Kulick, but he is certain he knows why. This is the lead the cops have been waiting for.
There is a "noir" edge to this entertaining story.
"This is the city - Scranton, Pennsylvania... My name is Markowski. I carry a badge."
Hard Spell is fun to read from start to finish and is book one in a promising new series. I look forward to more adventures with Stan and the variety of fascinating characters he works with, lives with and fights.
Read an excerpt