Occult Detective Magazine #9 (magazine review).

Occult Detective Magazine’ is a quarterly periodical featuring short stories and articles in the genre specified in the title. All fourteen tales herein were enjoyable in different ways but these were my favourites.

‘The Case Of The Shattered Decanter’ by Marion Pitman is a good opener featuring psychic investigator Irene Rogers down among the Luvvies. Top actor Sir Norman Brangwyn, a decent chap, is subject to strange incidents since the death of his beloved wife. Jealous rival Willy Merton, a loud man who tells rude stories, may be involved. This had the feel of an old Poirot story with magic thrown in and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

‘In The Ruined Places’ by Sarah Lamparelli has Buffalo police detective Susie Bronson entering an old Victorian house with mouldy wallpaper, dusty lamps, blacked out windows, decomposing dead bodies, rats, stolen credit cards and a man who chants ‘There is a place for you in Dun Dreach- Fhola’. This will scare the pants off you. A strange ending but you can get away with that if you’re Thomas Ligotti or Caitlin R. Kiernan. Sarah Lamparelli can now be added to that list. Brrrrr.

‘Lost In The Shuffle’ by Mike Chinn is an adventure of the Black Tarot who uses cards to perform various magics and is secretly Lane DiRoca, a Great War aviator terribly maimed in a burning plane crash but fixed up with ancient Chinese magic. Terrific fun in the style of Doc Savage, the Shadow and other pre-Superman super-heroes.

‘A Hank Of Hair’ by Simon Bucher-Jones is another in the old-fashioned Edwardian manner. Two bachelor schoolmasters stay over the Christmas holidays to look after the few boarders who can’t go home for various reasons. Henry Myers is cursed by a hair spell, choking on it, feeling it in his mattress and all over his body even though no physical hair can be seen. ‘A torment of ticklesome hair.’ Occult detective Alexander Nye turns up because he dreamt that they needed him. A good strong story with a literary, spiritual bent for, if you admit the existence of devils and demons, then God fits in your worldview, too. When I grew up, many English people believed in God. It was nice.

‘An Incident In A Haunted House’ by S.L. Edwards is unusual in this genre because it takes place in a hippie commune. Artist Willard Michaels walked into a wall painted with rolling hills and windswept grass under a blue sky and vanished. A dark tale of grief with some scares.

‘The Case Of The Ink-Maker’s Daughter’ by Davide Mana has Occult Consultant Valerie Trelawney investigating Olivia, an ink-maker’s daughter who mixed a special recipe for a grand lady customer who supplied certain ingredients and specified that it only be mixed at night. Since then, Olivia has nightmares and wakes up with scratches on the walls of her bedroom. This involves Egyptian magic. Since gods, magic and superstitions abound in every tribe and have done for the past 5,000 years or more, there is plenty of ancient lore to draw on for stories and you can even make stuff up! I enjoyed the polite, formal Victorian atmosphere of this one and others of its ilk.

Stage magician Christopher Dark is also a real magician and living a quiet life when the ghost of his old girlfriend turns up ‘Inviting A World Of Trouble’ by Adam Gallardo. Allison got hooked on crystal meth by drug dealer/pimp Joe before he killed her so brutally that she cannot rest in peace. Chris is reluctant to mess with anyone as dangerous as Joe but feels obliged. Grimly gripping gangster games with black magic.

Two years after Nixon quit, there’s a Tutankhamun exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum. Private investigator/magician John Conquer has nothing better to do on Christmas Eve, so he pays it a visit and is picked up by a beautiful girl in the queue, for he has two tickets. There’s more to her than meets the eye, though what meets the eye is lovely. ‘Conquer’s Golden Case’ by Edward M. Erdelac has the feel of an old Hammer Horror or a Roger Corman film and that’s no bad thing.

‘The Tallboy’ by Josh Reynolds is another case for Royal Occultist Charles St. Cyprian and his feisty assistant, Miss Ebe Gallowglass. A tallboy is a giant wardrobe but the one owned by Lord Littlecross, shipped to his mansion from Ladysmith, Natal, where it was involved in a siege during the Second Boer War, is downright nasty. ‘Most of the better houses in England are haunted, you know’, Charles tells his Lordship. Another fun romp.

As usual, ‘Occult Detective Magazine’ features stories as varied as the straight detective genre and a bit more besides, Lovecraftian mystery for example. I particularly enjoy the Victorian and Edwardian tales but appreciate modern hard-boiled, too, and don’t mind a bit of grimdark for added seasoning, but not too much. Illustrations and non-fiction articles are a bonus. There’s tons of content and it’s great value for money. I read it as a pdf review file but rather think it will work better as a paper magazine for that old-fashioned feel. Recommended in any form.

Eamonn Murphy

March 2023

(pub: Cathaven Press, 2023. 230 page e-mag/magazine. Price: £ 9.95 (UK), $11.96 (US). ISBN: 978-1-916021-266)

check out website: http://greydogtales.com/blog/occult-detective-magazine/ 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.