Welcome to The Occult Detective

Posted in Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on November 14, 2022 by Occult Detective

Welcome, sleuths. Pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink. We’ve got plenty to talk about…

My Thoughts on The Stone Serpent by Nicholas Kaufmann

Posted in Book Review, Horror on November 29, 2022 by Occult Detective

Nick Kaufmann’s one of those writers who I’ve always thought deserved a larger audience. I really enjoyed Chasing the Dragon, Dying Is My Business, Die and Stay Dead, In the Shadow of the Axe, and Hunt at World’s End. With that sort of track record, I was really looking forward to reading the ARC for The Stone Serpent he and publisher David Naill Wilson sent me for review. I should point out, The Stone Serpent is book two in the Dr. Laura Powell series and I have not read the predecessor, The Hungry Earth.

Before I continue, here’s the blurb from Crossroad Press:

“Nicholas Kaufmann offers up an unputdownable blend of gruesome body horror and fast-paced suspense.” – Ray Garton, author of Live Girls and Ravenous

Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Powell didn’t think anything could be more frightening than what she uncovered in an autopsy a year ago. Yet, in this chilling sequel to Nicholas Kaufmann’s bestselling The Hungry Earth, the cause of death is literally petrifying.

When a completely petrified corpse ends up on her autopsy table, Laura is convinced it must be a fossil, but the evidence says otherwise. Impossibly, the man on her table died in a car crash earlier that day. But what could cause a human body to transform so quickly from flesh to a hard stonelike substance?

Laura’s investigation takes her out of her hometown of Sakima, New York, and into dangerous new territory. From the streets of Valley Grove, home to a fundamentalist religious sect under the thumb of a brutal, vindictive leader, to the bowels of Thurmond Biotech, a secretive pharmaceutical company hellbent on developing the first anti-aging miracle drug, what she unearths is far more terrifying than she could have imagined.

Vicious, deadly creatures are preying on the people of Valley Grove, killing them with a highly toxic venom that ravages and transforms their bodies in horrifying ways. As the creatures claim more victims, striking from out of the darkness with lightning-fast speed, Laura must find a way to stop them before they spread to the rest of the Hudson Valley. But will her search for answers put her in even more danger by sending her into the heart of the creatures’ den?

With The Stone Serpent, multiple award-nominated author Nicholas Kaufmann delivers another gripping thriller in the Dr. Laura Powell series.

Let’s get this out of the way first. You definitely do not need to read The Hungry Earth before tackling The Stone Serpent. Kaufmann tells you everything you need to know throughout. That said, I now want to read The Hungry Earth because Dr. Powell is a terrific protagonist.

Nick navigates pacing like a pro. The Stone Serpent is suspenseful without ever becoming bogged down by plot. It’s a roller coaster ride from the outset, with a unique body horror twist that keeps you glued to the page. While I think some of the subplots fall a little flat, the characters all make up for it. Powell and Booker are a great team and there are some truly despicable bad guys they find themselves up against.

The real winner here is the amount of research the author did to keep the book moving and not bury the reader under an avalanche of info-dumps. He juggles this perfectly, keeping the information flowing organically. That’s a neat trick I wish more authors could wrap their heads around.

The Stone Serpent is solid FOUR out of FIVE STARS Horror. I highly recommend it. Hell, I’ve not even read the first one and I’ll go ahead and recommend it too. Laura Powell is a great character. I hope to read more of her in the future.

The Stone Serpent by Nicholas Kaufmann is published by Macabre Ink, an imprint of Crossroad Press, and available via AMAZON.

And, while I have your attention, as an occult detective fan, I recommend the two Trent novels — Dying is My Business and Die and Stay Dead. You won’t be disappointed except to learn there are only the two.

The Relationship Book Tag

Posted in Book Review on November 3, 2022 by Occult Detective

I ran across the Relationship Book Tag via Michael K. Vaughan who caught it from the progenitor of the virus, Gareth Howells. I’ve come down with the booktuber bug so feel obligated to take part in these from time to time. So, here we go, let’s to it:

1. What book or books have you had the longest?

I’ve had several Hardy Boys books for an easy 50 years, beginning with The House on the Cliff on my sixth birthday, way back in 1966. Also John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-Out comes to mind, which I picked up in the first grade and still hold in a place of honor on my bookshelf. And comics. Goodness, I’ve still a few of them about. Easily had them that long. I’d kept most of the books from my childhood, being a hoarder of the things, and only just now have I started selling some of them off via my wife’s and my bookstore, Attic Pages.

2. What authors have you had a close relationship with that you are still reading today?

Robert E. Howard sits firmly atop that hill, though sadly there are no new stories for him to pen. An author that I began reading as a child that is still with us and I still read to this day would be Stephen King. I began reading him in 1976 with The Stand and ‘Salem’s Lot and the last book of his I read was If It Bleeds in 2020.

3. What new author did you start a relationship with recently?

Define recently. I guess Bernard Cornwell would come closest to fitting that bill. I’ve been reading him for less than twenty years. Also, I just, as in within a couple of months, began reading Tony Hillerman, and I can see me reading more from him, though he’s dead, but you know…

4. Name a book or books that you would say influenced your formative years?

I’ll name two. One, a series of short stories I began around 11 or 12, that influenced me as a writer and as a person, would be Robert E. Howard’s Conan series. Two, and perhaps more influential in that it shaped my spiritual worldview and impacts what I do today, was Manly Palmer Hall’s Unseen Forces which I read when I was 10 years old.

5. Name a two character relationship in a book that is central to the narrative of the book?

Frank and Joe Hardy.

6. Name a book that has a great depiction of family?

The Hardy Boys come immediately to mind, and seem to be today’s theme. But I also find myself thinking of the Starks from A Game of Thrones.

7. Name a book that features a love or obsession with a different art form as part of its story?

Magick is certainly as much art as science and so I find myself thinking of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild and Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out, to bring things back round to occult detectives.

My Thoughts on Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher

Posted in Book Review on November 1, 2022 by Occult Detective

I received an unexpected review copy in the post from Weiser Books, for a book I was completely unaware of. The title in question is Casting Lots: Ancient Hebrew Divination Magic by EliSheva Nesher.

I have a fondness for various forms of divination, with years of practical and sometimes professional use of tarot, oracle, and standard suited (playing) cards, and middling skills in the casting of runes. While this is a book I would generally pass over, I was intrigued and quite pleased to receive it. Before I share my thoughts, here is the publisher’s pitch:

“In Casting Lots, Elisheva Nesher does not just present the system of using the aleph-beit to cast lots for spiritual guidance and wisdom, she also shows the range of divine beings and spiritual practices in ancient Canaan/Israel, as well as the modern polytheist revival. There is a warmth and generosity here towards all sides that we all can learn from.” —Rachel Pollack, author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and A Walk Through the Forest of Souls
Lots are an ancient Hebrew form of divination and magic that may also be used for healing, blessing, cursing, meditation, and spiritual interaction. A set of lots contains twenty-two small discs, each one bearing one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In a manner similar to runes, these lots are then cast and interpreted. Though lots were once so common that explanations of how to cast them were unnecessary, over the centuries their methods and uses fell into obscurity.
In this practical guide, author and seer Elisheva Nesher has reconstructed the ancient art of lot casting for modern times. Her book contains explanations for each of the twenty-two lots and explores their meanings, both mystical and mundane. It also includes detailed instructions on how to cast, as well as craft your own set of lots. In addition to divination, Casting Lots explores the magical gifts of the lots as well as how to use them to contact and interact with the Hebrew spirits, such as Asherah. A brief guide is included for those unfamiliar with these spirits.
Casting Lots is a complete instruction manual for mastering the art of lot casting.

First, I am a fan of Diana Paxson’s work, both as a Troth Elder and as fantasy author. To have her write the foreword and to speak so eloquently and fondly of Ms. Nesher, of her practice and friendship, was all the introduction I needed.

For all my history and occult interests and study, the Ancient Hebrews, those pre-Rabbinic peoples, were a bit of a blind spot for me. If nothing else, I appreciated the lessons gleaned from a fellow NeoPagan. Reconstructing a faith from historical scraps is a daunting challenge. And to see those similarities between cultures is an enlightening awakening.

I stated earlier how I might have passed this book by without a second glance. What a mistake that would have been. I am thankful to Weiser for sharing this work with me, and to the author for putting together such a thoughtful examination.

I truly appreciate books that make me think, not only about what the author is presenting and suggesting, but in how it might relate to my own journey and that is the gift that Casting Lots has given me.

Beyond the Casting of Lots, this book delves into polytheism, our connections to spirits, divinities, and preternatural intelligence, in to various forms of meditation which is all very insightful and illuminating. The book is full of wonderful surprises and I really am thrilled to have experienced it. I learned from it. What better praise can one levy upon a book they’ve read?

There’s nothing exceptional about the physical book itself. The cover, paper stock, graphic design, et al are fairly standard. I think it works in this case. No bells and whistles to distract from the message. It’s all about the content…

Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher is released today, the first of November, and is available wherever books are sold. Here is the AMAZON link. I certainly recommend it. It has a lot to offer.

The Witch House: Day 8 of the 13 Days of Occultober

Posted in Occultober on October 26, 2022 by Occult Detective

A few months ago, my wife and I were out and about town, prowling yard sales in our small community. Stopping on Wabash Street, at the house of one of my childhood friends, I was surprised to find her there, helping her mom with her rummage.

As we chatted, another woman approached and joined in to reminisce about the old neighborhood. She asked when they had torn down the old house on the corner, to which my friend replied, “You mean the “Witch House”?

In the 1970s, the place we kids called Witch House sat quietly on the corner of Wabash and Marple. It had fallen into disrepair, crowned with a rusty tin roof and cloaked in weathered wood slat siding.

Whenever we played “Werewolf By Night”, my version of Hide-and-Go-Seek, Witch House was off-limits. Too many kids were scared of it.

Why “Witch House”? Well, for no other reason than that for a group of eight year old kids obsessed with Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, comic books, and late night horror movies, it looked like what we imagined a Witch House would.

One weekend, when I was spending the night in town with my paternal grandparents, we took to the streets after dark and biked across the brick roads and graveled alleys until we found ourselves outside the old ramshackle house.

Inside, we knew there was a witch or ghost or something else altogether unnatural in residence. We always had. That fateful night, we were going to find out.

Ditching our bikes in the bushes, we used a pry bar we’d liberated from one of our parent’s tool sheds to get past the swollen door and crept across the buckling wood floors. Yes, the house was empty, or nearly so, and it echoed and creaked with our every step, but there, in the front room sat a lone rocking chair. All by itself. Just sitting there.

We gathered around it and I took the lead, calling out for whatever hoary spirit that might call the place home to come before us. I used made-up incantations, combining language from Doctor Strange comics and those odd occult books I rummaged through in the public library.

The air was humid and we were all sweating profusely.

Then it happened.

The chair began to rock, ever so slowly. It creaked and lilted. And we gasped and ran and climbed on our bikes and rode away as fast as our legs could propel us. And we laughed. Nervously at first and then slowly in that uncontrollable way only kids can, joyously.

We believed we’d experienced contact with something beyond the world of the living.

It was just a few years later that the house was razed, and now there simply stood an empty lot. As vividly as I remember those long ago days, it was that more recent visit that I reflect on now. I could see it in her eyes as she recalled that house that was, of how it had effected us as children, of how even now, after it had long since been put to the torch, it still left its shadow on us.

That Witch House had cast a spell on us many years before, and a ghost of it still remained.

Answering the tough questions for the #spookyhalloween tag

Posted in Occultober on October 21, 2022 by Occult Detective

1. Favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde

2. Name something you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark forest or in an abandoned building.

Rats. I hate rats.

3. Have you ever played with a Ouija Board?

Countless times.

4. Favorite horror monster or villain?

I’m a sucker for movies about “The Devil”.

5. The creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

There are a lot of to choose from. How about the time I was writing in my shack and I sensed something come up behind me and felt its breath on my neck?

6. If you were dared to spend the night in a “haunted house”, would you do it?

It’s what I do for a good time.

7. Are you superstitious?

Not particularly.

8. Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?


9. Which urban legend scares you the most?

Rawhead and Bloody Bones

10. Do you prefer gore or thrillers?


11. Do you believe in multiple dimensions or worlds?


12. Ever made a potion of any sort?

Indeed I have.

13. Do you get scared easily?

Not really.

14. Have you ever played Bloody Mary?

As a kid. Nothing happened…unfortunately.

15. Do you believe in demons/the devil?


16. You’re home alone but you hear footsteps in your house, what do you do?

Strike up a conversation.

17. If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Sleepy Hollow

18. If you could only wear one Halloween costume for the rest of your life, what would you be?

Merlin from Excalibur.

19. Would you ever go to a graveyard at night?


20. In a zombie apocalypse what is your weapon of choice?


21. Would you rather go to a Halloween party or go trick or treating?


22. You’re in a horror movie. Are you the final girl, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

The smart one? Or the Killer? Let’s find out.

23. Do you have to watch something happy after watching a horror movie so you can go to sleep?


24. Whilst watching scary movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, the person with their eyes covered the whole time, or the person who falls asleep

These days? Fall asleep. Though I’ve been known to talk to characters on screen. Sometimes even in my sleep.

25. Are you the one who gets scared, or the one who does the scaring?

I do the scaring. Though usually on accident.

26. Favorite scary book?

Hm. Scary is hard to define. Has a book ever scared me? Let’s just say The Shining.

27. How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

3-4 years old, if Frankenstein counts.

28. What was your first Halloween costume?

That I remember? Superman.

29. What are you going to be for Halloween this year

A struggling author and paranormal adventurer.

30. If you could have a spooky halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf), what would you pick?

I’ve had some great black cats in my day (Boo and Tiny in particular). A tame wolf who came and went as he pleased would be interesting.

The 13 Days of Occultober Begins…

Posted in Occultober on October 19, 2022 by Occult Detective

The Thirteen Days of Occultober has begun.

To embrace the scavenger hunt aesthetic, we’ll be moving around a bit, across my various social media platforms. Check back at occultdetective.com to see where we’re showing up next.

Read Day One at Patreon

Read Day Two at Substack

Read Day Three at Tumblr

Read Days Four & Five at Twitter

Read Day Six at my Facebook Author Page

Read Day Seven at Instagram

Read Day Eight at OccultDetective.com

Read Day Nine at Pinterest

Read Day Ten at Mastadon

Read Day Eleven at TikTok

Read Day Twelve at Facebook

Read Day Thirteen at Youtube

Who’s up for a virtual scavenger hunt?

Posted in Occultober on October 14, 2022 by Occult Detective

13 Days of Occultober begins October 19th.

The 13 Days of #Occultober Event is coming

Posted in Archive on October 13, 2022 by Occult Detective

I try to do a little something extra each Occultober, be it a contest, serialized novella, or paranormal countdown of some sort.

It seems fitting to announce this years event on the 13th of the month as we’re doing “13 Days of Occultober” starting October 19.

So, what’s this year’s event all about?

Why, the haunted hinterlands of Northern Indiana, of course. But that’s all I’m sharing for now.

Goose Creek is calling. I’ve spirits to attend to.

There’s Nothing Better Than #Occultober

Posted in Occultober on October 11, 2022 by Occult Detective
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