March 01, 2004

The Great Occult Detective

by Alan Beatts

One of my favorite sub-sections of the horror / fantasy genre has always been the "occult detective" -- the normal (or at least mostly normal) man or woman who find themselves constantly dealing and/or combating with the supernatural or paranormal. I think my first exposure to this sub-genre was Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John stories but I went on to enjoy Algernon Blackwood's John Silence and Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories. Borrowing liberally from both a world of folk tales and myths and from the great tradition of literary detectives, these stories enchanted and intrigued by turns and were one of the many factors that influenced my choice of profession and specialty. I think that the cardinal reason that these stories appealed to me so much was that "mainstream" mysteries don't have enough of the fantastic to really interest me but much of recent supernatural or horror fiction lacks the kind of structured series of clues leading to a final revelation that I relish.