Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Early Review: Hard Spell

Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit 1)
-       Justin Gustainis
Publisher: Angry Robot – released on 7th July 2011 in UK, 26th July 2011 in US
E-Copy courtesy of netgalley and Angry Robot
Meet Stan Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit
“Like the rest of America, Scranton’s got an uneasy ‘live and let unlive’ relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that’s when they call me. My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”

Our hero, Stan is a detective with the local Occult Crimes Unit in a world where the supernatural is out and proud – and has been since the WWII. Stan is just getting used to his new partner when a series of vampire murders and a stolen grimmoire suggest that something big is up...
This is hard-boiled urban fantasy with all the fun of the noir detectives. In fact it’s so hard boiled you could probably chop it up, put it in a sandwich with some cress and it would be just as tasty. It’s told firmly from the point of view of the police complete with procedural waiting times, local politics and other annoying hold ups the police have to deal with. Stan is a tough cop. He has his prejudices and his reasons for them. As this focuses heavily on his work life, it takes a while before the reader is shown his softer side, but it’s worth the wait to see the cracks in his armour.
The mystery is intriguing and the action fast paced and exciting. The plot cracks along barely pausing for a smart remark as the stakes are raised. I found this a great addition to the UF scene with all the characters intriguing. The slight twist of supernatural on the usual buddy cop story gives both genres a little twist (like a slice of lime in your coke!) and I’m looking forward to more from the Occult Crimes Unit.
Recommended for fans of the Dresden files and Mike Carey. 8.5 out of 10.

Please check out this cool trailer...


  1. I read it too :) But for another blog. so fun to try something new, since this was really different for me

  2. I've got a copy of this from NetGalley, and the reviews I keep seeing for it seem to all say that it's an awesome read! I can't wait to get around to reading it myself!

  3. Ah Mel! Your reviews are always fun! And now I'm craving a sandwich.

    Vamps and noir detectives, ey. Sounds like a interesting, unique mix.

  4. Oh this sounds so interesting. I was wondering why it had an old spy novel vibe, but with it being a noir type... makes sense! Hm... I need to try this one. Great review.