The 2nd Annual Occult Detective Awards, Part IV
Today we close out the 2nd Annual Occult Detective Awards. I’ve read 93 books so far this year (and hope to squeeze in a few more before 2012 tolls), the vast majority being occult non-fiction, but I was honored to have read several stellar novels and collections. Here are my selections for the best of what I stumbled upon in 2011.
The Damned Highway by Nick Mamatas & Brian Keene
I like to fantasize that Keene and Mamatas had me in mind when they wrote this one. Hell, you take Hunter S. Thompson and plop him right smack dab into the middle of Lovercraft territory and you’re barking up my proverbial tree. The authors did a great job of aping the good Doctor’s unique voice and the story was crazy and original, owing much, I think, to the Illuminatus! Trilogy. It certainly felt as if they channeled a wee bit of Robert Anton Wilson alongside that of Doctor Thompson. A brilliant and thrilling work. This is one for the ages.
Runner-Up: A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin
Samson and Denial by Bob Ford
Bob Ford has written are hard-boiled, supernatural thriller that is an action-packed and adrenaline pumping roller coaster ride filled with sinister criminal elements and an out of this world paranormal menace. This one was a lot of fun and my review will soon be available over at the Monster Librarian. Well worth checking out.
Runner-Up: As I Embrace My Jagged Edges by Lee Thompson
Best Occult Detective Novel
Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis
Gustainis gets it. He loves the Occult Detective genre every bit as much as I do and Hard Spell was everything you could ask for in a genre novel. Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski is a great character, hard-boiled and square jawed, just the way I like ‘em. The best news is that this is the first in a series. I’ll definitely be back for more.
Runner-Up: The Jake Helman Files – Cosmic Forces by Greg Lamberson
Best Occult Detective Short Story
The Hellfire Club by William Meikle (Carnacki: Heaven & Hell)
The hardest part was picking one of the stories from Meikle’s Carnacki collection to single out. Willie’s one of those writers that wears his love of the pulps proudly, but he brings more than simple homage to the table. He’s a master old school storyteller who captures a mood like nobody’s business.
Runner-Up: The Curse of Kali by Guido Henkel
Best Occult Detective Audio Drama
Edict Zero: FIS by Slipgate Nine Entertainment
It’s going to take something far more than special to knock Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine off of their perch atop the Best Audio Drama category. For the second year in a row, Kincaid has proven that he can not only weave a great story, but his production and voice work is simply unparallelled in my opinion. If you are not listening to Edict Zero then you are simply missing out on something completely innovative and evocative.
Best Occult Detective Author
The hardest working wordsmith in the business? Quite possibly. To call William Meikle prolific is almost an insult. This guy hammers out stories that are consistently above and beyond and he has tackled everything from Holmes to Carnacki and Challenger, making a name for himself by capturing the essence of these characters and making them his own. Not only that, but his creations, particularly private dick Derek Adams, sit comfortable beside the best of them. Bloody hell, people, read his blasted work for yourselves and you’ll see what I mean.
Best Occult Detective Character
The central character in three novels and a handful of short stories, Derek Adams is a Glasgow-based gumshoe cut from the same cloth as Sam Spade, Philip Marlow, and Mike Hammer. Meikle writes him effortlessly and Adams easily takes his place among the iconic characters of Chandler and Hammett. The Midnight Eye Files are what occult detective fiction is all about and Derek Adams is one of the greats. As long as Willie keeps writing them, I’ll be reading them.
And with that, we stick a fork in another year. I hope, if nothing else, that I was able to turn you on to some things you might have overlooked. The Occult Detective genre means a lot to me. It embodies all the things I love in a good story — smokey bars and femme fatales, grim beasties and damaged heroes. I’ve enjoyed sharing my favorites with you and look forward to another year of supernatural entertainment. Hell, it just might be our last ride, if the Mayans get their way about it. Hm, next years awards will culminate on the 21st. Maybe we’ll got out with an even bigger bang then ;)
Till then, so long and remember — Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!