Occult Detective Countdown 9/20: Thomas Carnacki / #40DaysofHalloween

I didn’t give Thomas Carnacki enough credit as a kid and wrote him off as a Shelock Holmes knock-off, in the same vein as other paranormal investigators that came to light in that era, such as Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence and Seabury Quinn’s Jules de Grandin.

I really missed the boat on this one.

My appreciation for William Hope Hodgson’s occult detective came later, in college, when I stumbled upon him anew.

I had snatched up a copy of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, along with some Marilyn Ross Dark Shadows paperbacks, at the White Rabbit, a used bookstore in the Village, just off campus at Ball State. That would have been around 1986 or so. I was enthralled… and amazed that I hadn’t found them so when I first read them nearly a decade before.

Regardless, I had become an avowed fan and champion of Hodgson’s writings, and my interest swelled again when my friend, William Meikle took on the character in several anthology appearances, and for a series of collections — Heaven and Hell, The Watcher at the Gate, and The Edinburgh Townhouse — all brilliantly illustrated by M. Wayne Miller.

Carnacki is everything one could want in an occult detective, and while they were originally published from 1910-1912, the stories are amazingly modern in concept. The investigator’s use of science in concert with the occult made Carnacki unique in the genre and makes him highly adaptable to contemporary audiences.

A Note on the Occult Detective Countdown: As I make my way through my list of favorite occult detectives, bear in mind, I am not recording them in any particular order. I thought it would be more fun to release them organically, narratively rather than in a simple “best to worse” format. I’ll let you decide for yourselves their pecking order.

I will be posting to the countdown roughly every other day throughout our 40 Days of Hallowe’en adventure.

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