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Evil Dark: An Occult Crime Unit Investigation [Mass Market Paperback]

Justin Gustainis

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Book Description

April 24 2012
My name's Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community. Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Unnatural Law | Thicker Than Water | The Bite Stuff | Duty Calls ]

e-book ISBN: 978-0-85766-137-1

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (April 24 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857661361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857661364
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #516,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Another hit for Sergeant Stan!" - Paul Simpson, SciFi Bulletin

"Great writing, well paced, with twists and turns at every angle, it throws a spotlight on our own society, making you question your own choices in life." - Geek Syndicate

"Gustainis has proved himself time and time again, and it is no surprise to me that Evil Dark is another cracking novel." - Terror-Tree

About the Author

Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings. After earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read. The author lives in Plattsburgh, NY.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrifically entertaining read May 8 2012
By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I seem to be developing a taste for supernatural police procedurals. After discovering and loving Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London and Moon over Soho last year and Scott Sigler's Nocturnal last month, this month it was Justin Gustainis' Evil Dark and its protagonist Stan Markowski's turn. I had a tremendous amount of fun with this book. Its writing and tone of voice hooked me from the first page and by the end of the book I was disappointed that it was over so soon, as I would have happily spent another three hundred pages with its characters.

The atmosphere Gustainis creates with his writing is fabulous. From the first page you get a feel for not only who Stan Markowski is, but also in what kind of town he operates. While some of the characters were archetypal, the fact that I thought them so might be due to the fact that I've read and watched a lot of police procedurals. There is the rugged, older main character, with his younger, slightly goofy partner, the gruff squad captain with his heart in the right place and the sexy, sassy female cop love interest among others. And naturally, the cops and the FBI have a hard time playing nice with each other. But archetypal or no, these characters are definitely a bit different, as they are part of a police squad that deals with occult crimes, that means crimes involving or committed by supernatural creatures ranging from vampires to ghouls and goblins. In fact, Stan's partner Karl and his daughter Christine are vampires themselves. Not having read the first book in the Occult Crimes Unit series, I'm not sure about much of Stan, Karl and Christine's back story, other than that it involved getting Karl and Christine turned into vampires to save their lives - or undeath, such as it is - but we do see Stan having mixed feelings about this change in his partner and daughter. There is a lot of hidden depth to Markowski's calm exterior, which makes him interesting to read about, even if a lot of that depth remains unilluminated, though I can't be sure whether it's truly unknown or things revealed in the previous book. Karl, with his James Bond obsession and his rather unique perspective on their case, is a good foil for Stan's serious demeanour and their verbal exchanges are some of the highlights of the book.

The different supernatural creatures found in Evil Dark are a natural part of the story's world, not monsters hidden from human society, but integrated and every day. In fact, I loved the alternate world Gustainis has created. His Cranston is a place unlike our own, but at the same time it could still be the next town over from ours. The supernatural creatures aren't just an everyday part of life; they even have their own history, such as ogres and goblins being distantly-related. They have even penetrated popular culture; there is a website called Drac's List, where vampires can meet potential 'donors', James Bond starred in From Transylvania with Love, Steinbeck's bestseller is Of Elves and Men and Stan buys his daughter something special for dinner at Sup'r-Natural Foods or the local Vlad-Mart. The little details Gustainis manages to drop into the narrative in this manner are awesome and add up to a very convincing alternate reality.

In this very real supernatural environment, we are presented with a frightening case which Stan and Karl get handed by the FBI; there are people making supernatural snuff films, not the urban-myth kind, the real deal. With such a big case on their plate, Stan and Karl get busy, but it seems that every day sees more cases added to their workload as the unit is inundated with cases. Gustainis manages to make all of the cases fit together in a way that leads to a surprising conclusion, one I very much enjoyed.

Evil Dark was a terrifically entertaining read, which kept me invested in its characters from beginning to end. Now I want to read Hard Spell, just so I can spend some more time with Stan, Karl, Christine and the rest, after which I'll eagerly await the as-yet untitled third book. A fun, fast read centred on an interesting case to solve, Evil Dark is a recommended read for anyone who likes police procedurals or the supernatural without sparkles or tramp stamps and leather pants.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense driven, crime stopping, sarcasm slinging detective duo out to stop an unprecedented supe-human war. June 26 2012
By Dark Faerie Tales - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Suspense driven, crime stopping, sarcasm slinging detective duo out to stop an unprecedented supe-human war.

Opening Sentence: The City is Scranton.

The Review:

Evil Dark, the second installment in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series, continues to follow the overworked and underappreciated detectives, Stan Markowski and Karl Renfer. Their caseload is high, their sarcasm strong, and all their interagency cooperation mojo is running out quickly. Have I piqued your interest, yet?

Markowski and his recently turned undead partner, Renfer, have been asked to work with the FBI in finding out the origin of recently discovered black market supernatural "snuff" films. A wizard is summoning demons to torture and kill people on video for entertainment. Even though the cops and FBI may not be united under normal conditions, they all agree that the people making these films must be stopped. The detectives must deal with demons, witch-burnings, dodge assassination attempts, all while they try to stop a potential supe-human war. And that is just the problems they have to deal with at work, not their personal lives.

The reason I really enjoy this series is due to its character realism and relatability. The characters seem like real people and respond in ways that I would expect any one of us would, cop or not. Lots of police novels out there seem more along the lines of a television show than true to life. I appreciate Mr. Gustainis taking the effort to make each of his characters unforgettable.

The dynamics between Markowski and Renfer are amazing. In the previous book, they hadn't been partners that long. Now, 18 months later, the two men have a great repertoire. There are many more jokes and jabs between them; what I would expect from men that count on each other in life and death situations. I was also happy to see that their partnership is not without its problems.

The other big dynamic is Markowski's relationship with the women in his life. He has a vampire daughter that he is still trying to reconcile with. Though he knows that she is an adult and has to make her own choices, he still can't let go of his fatherly instincts to protect. Markowski's object of fascination, Lacey, is also furthered. His personal code of ethics doesn't allow him to act on his feelings for her, but that doesn't mean he can't think about her. Though Markowski plays it cool, Lacey brings up his "interest" without it creating a wedge in their personal and professional relationship. And last but not least, we get to see a good looking woman offer him "benefits". It is refreshing to read about during the harder and darker overtones of the cases he is working on. It just goes to prove that cops are people too.

Even though the cases are paranormal in content, the overall procedures just scream out "normal". The entire process of working the case is very detailed; giving the reader the feel of realism in an unrealistic world. I particularly liked that Markowski and Renfer work on multiple cases at once. I do not expect real detectives to handle only one case at a time, so this adds to the overall effect of the book for me. I do not expect real interagency cooperation to be without some grumblings on both ends. Nor do I expect real clues to fall into the laps of the detectives, like they would in the movies. And while I may not have personal experience with working in any law enforcement job, I can believe in "Spook Squad" and its officers without it being too much of a stretch of the imagination.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Evil Dark and would recommend it to those readers that enjoy paranormal crime novels. Justin Gustainis has made it onto my must-read-author list and I look forward to what he has in store for us next.

FTC Advisory: The author graciously provided me with a copy of Evil Dark. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payments I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pulp Horror/Police Procedural story April 29 2012
By Peter Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of Angry Robot Books' most recent releases is Evil Dark by Justin Gustainis. Evil Dark is the second book in a series of novels starring Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski and his vampire partner Detective Karl Renfer.

This book could be subtitled Law & Order: OCU (Occult Crime Unit). If you are a fan of police procedural stories and also enjoy horror, this is an interesting mixture of the two genres.

Publisher's Summary:

"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."
A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community of Scranton.
Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...

The main plot involves the investigation into a mystery surrounding a series of demonic snuff films. Markowski must work with and interact both normal human criminals, cops and civilians but also Supes. Markowski's world is populated by the full range of supernatural beings, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons, trolls, etc. It is curious to see how these different groups of supernatural beings have adapted to living in the real world.

Detective Markowski has to juggle his personal life that features a vampire daughter and a number of interesting female potential love interests, all of whom could be in danger from the villains i the story.

What Gustainis does really well is integrating the Supes into the gritty reality of Scranton. What he failed at to this reader was in some of his characterization, particularly of the female characters. At times it felt like the female characters where doing and saying what a teenage boy would want them to do and say and not what they should actually end up doing. This issue was most glaring at the books end, but I'd be interested to hear if others had the same issues that I do after reading.

While I did have some issues with Gustainis' characterizations, overall I found it to be a very fun novel. Evil Dark feels like one of those old pulp magazine stories, set your expectations accordingly and enjoy the ride.

For more on the book visit: Angry Robot Books and to purchase the book you can visit Amazon.com

Review for LightsaberRattling.com
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Markowski and the Scranton Occult Crimes Unit are now on my "Read as soon as the next book comes out" list. May 12 2014
By Imagine A Book SF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the interests of full disclosure, I was sent a free copy of this book by the author for review purposes. The only thing I promised was an honest review. All of my reviews, good or bad, are based on my personal opinion.

Buy this book!

Crossovers are the hardest type of story to do well. You have to please readers of both genres, so the story has to be exceptionally well done to be considered good. This series is good.

Justin Gustainis' series has the feel of a noir detective story set in a gritty, realistic alternate universe where goblins, ghouls, witches, werewolves, and vampires are just one more thing you have to deal with to get through the day.

It is also imbued with a dry wit that continually makes me stop reading for a moment just to savor a particular comment.

Evil Dark has a darker, more occult story than the first book in the series, Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation), did. While it still maintains the noir detective feel, it winds you deeper into the criminal and supernatural communities of Scranton and surrounding areas.

The story holds up well even if you have not read the first book in the series, but I recommend you do so anyway. Both because it is such a good book, and you will get more out of reading them in order, and because I am certain that once you read this book, you WILL go back and read the first one anyway.

Markowski and the Scranton Occult Crimes Unit are now on my "Read as soon as the next book comes out" list.

I think you will agree.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a fun read Jan. 7 2013
By The Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not much on giving reviews so...
Evil Dark is just fun to read. Quick paced, fun characters, some twists and turns and just enjoyable. Lets face it, sometimes you just want to read something that is fun and this is it.

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