Author: Justin Gustainis
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 416pp
Release date: 3rd May 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also a crucifix, some wooden stakes, big vial of holy water and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”
Detective Stan Markowski, first seen in Hard Spell returns in Evil Dark, a supernatural murder mystery thriller. With a cool noir vibe and lively characters, Stan in particular, Evil Dark is a welcome return to Gustainis’ world. Stan has a daughter Christine, who is a vampire and his partner Detective Renfer is also a recently turned vampire.
In the midst of a series of murders, the FBI visits the Occult Crimes Team to show them something disturbing and new; a supernatural snuff film. One of a number of these films, it seems Markowski has something new to investigate. The victims are varied but evidence shows that the snuff films, featuring a possessed person torturing the victim, were filmed in Markowski’s home town of Scranton.
At the same time, a serial killer has been kidnapping witches and literally burning them at the stake.
This novel at its core is a supernatural police procedural however, it is so much more. Filled with witty quips and clever one-liners, pop culture references set in this alternative universe and more importantly, highlighting discrimination against the ‘other’, in this case vampires and witches, the novel is funny yet food for serious thought. Gustainis uses the novel to consider religion and racism whilst still retaining a sense of fun, and some rather gruesome bits too.
Gustainis has proved himself time and time again, and it is no surprise to me that Evil Dark is another cracking novel. Featuring meth-addicted goblins, suicidal fairies and ogres in bar fights this is well worth investing in.