Occult Detective Countdown 15/20: Harry D’Amour / #40DaysofHalloween

Harry D’Amour is a hard-boiled private dick who’d been around the block a few times in his two decades of making a hard living on the streets of New York. He was just a run-of-the-mill gumshoe, until a misadventure with the paranormal introduced him to the world of the occult and demonic possession. This is where we meet Harry in “The Last Illusion”, a short story found in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, released in 1985.

The short story was adapted for the big screen as Lord of Illusions in 1995. Written and directed by Barker, the movie starred Scott Bakula as D’Amour, and while the story was a dramatic departure from the source material, despite some rather sketchy special effects, this was a great occult detective film and Bakula was brilliant in the role.

I’ve traveled a long way with Harry D’Amour,” Barker wrote in the DVD’s liner notes. “He first appeared in a story I wrote almost a decade ago now, ‘The Last Illusion.’ Since then, I’ve recounted his life and troubled times in two novels and some short fiction. I’ve not made the road very easy for him. His destiny, it seems, is to be in constant struggle with what might be loosely called ‘the forces of darkness’, though he claims he’d be quite content investigating insurance fraud. His reluctance is, I trust, part of his charm. He’s not a Van Helsing, defiantly facing off against some implacable evil with faith and holy water. His antecedents are the troubled, weary and often lovelorn heroes of film noir – private detectives with an eye for a beautiful widow and an aversion to razors.

After “The Last Illusion”, D’Amour appeared in the short story”Lost Souls”, the incomplete Book of the Art trilogy: The Great and Secret Show and Everville, and The Scarlet Gospels.

He also made appearances in the Hellraiser comics by BOOM! Studios.

While the character has been mishandled at times, Harry D’Amour remains a solid entry in the genre and I hold out hope for some sort of redemption for him.

A Note on the Occult Detective Countdown: As I make my way through a list of some of my 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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