The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: American Nightmares by Michael Panush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Expecting literary genius from this book is like expecting Olivier to turn up in Hammer Horror and who wants Olivier ruining a good Hammer movie?
The title gives it away, it's detective pulp fiction, but with a supernatural twist and it is a rip-roaring romp through that genre :). Mort Candle and Weatherby Stein, I bet you can guess a lot about these two with just their names, and that's the point, what you read is what you get. No horrendously devious plot twists, not too much angst (just enough to give our boys some depth) and short, pacey stories that are plain fun to read.
There are seven short stories in this book in all with vampires, zombies, mobsters, circus freaks et al. My favourite is the car race with the devil!
I'm a sidekick gal myself, I always root for the sidekick and that's Weatherby, priggish, prickly and damaged and all that by 14, he brings out the mothering instinct in me. I'd love to read a story where they go back to Castle Stein. See, I must love it, I'm wanting more and I want it now - can't find a volume 2 though *pout*!
I even warmed to Mort in the end: he's our narrator and a hard-ass ex-marine: Sam Spade for the zombie generation.
The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is that I like my pulp just a teensie little bit better edited, some sentences I had to work out what they were meant to say. Still, didn't stop me reading the book! And the short stories make it easy to pick up and put down at will. In fact, these stories would even make a good old-fashioned TV series, episodic with just enough arc to carry the viewer from week to week, but also a viewer could pick it up at any point in the series.
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