Missing: pulp fiction on the spooky side

A short novel or a long short story, this well-written gumshoe yarn takes a staple of the old-school PI genre and mixes it with something rather more… sinister. The ex-cop protagonist is, inevitably, something of a loner, and author William Markham pays homage to all the genre requirements – a regular old-style diner for breakfast…

The Devil’s Lieutenant: hell’s hitman

I love a good murder, me. And there’s plenty of death, despair and destruction in this supernatural noir – suicide, murder, incest, betrayal and a bullet through the brainpan all come barrelling off the page within the opening chapters. ‘The Devil’s Lieutenant’ combines the hardboiled grit of a bare-knuckle brawl with an intriguing twist into…

Conquest: fools rush in…

The underlying premise of this urban fantasy series is that there are apocalyptic things afoot which angels alone can’t stand against. So they turn to humans – well, mostly humans – for help. Which is where Sam comes in. In common with other protagonists who star in spookynatural series, Sam’s a gifted misfit who’s been…

Hellblazer: The Family Man

John Constantine. Hellblazer. Hellraiser. Misanthrope, mage and meddler; arch manipulator and much more besides. This trade paperback compiles one of his earlier adventures, a story arc which first spluttered its sleazy self onto the shelves in comic book form back when the 1980s finally expired and a brash new decade strode onto the scene. ‘The Family…

Blue Blazes: modern urban fantasy meets old-time evil

Mookie Pearl is a great creation, a fictional protagonist who just for once isn’t gifted, handsome, wise-cracking or a wizard. He’s an ugly, pug-faced lunk (albeit an unusually intelligent lunk) who breaks heads and solves problems with blunt instruments as a mob enforcer. He’s a heavyweight of the underworld – and in this universe, a…

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology

This collection of 26 stories is a little different to the average anthology. It weaves between fact and fiction, exploring those remote and lonely places on the periphery of human society. Each of the contributions is a substantial piece of writing – not one of them feels like a filler – and the combined effect…

The Magician’s Land: an ultimately unfulfilling finale

There are some book series where you can join the narrative part-way through, but Lev Grossman’s Magician trilogy isn’t one of them. If you’ve not already journeyed to Fillory, a childhood land of mythical creatures which bears an uncanny resemblance to Narnia, then don’t start here. Go back to the first book, The Magicians, and…