Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: American Nightmares

The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: American Nightmares
The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: American Nightmares by Michael Panush

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Action & Adventure (per the publisher); paranormal noir (per me) Reading Level: Adult but has YA character

Disclosure: I was offered an eGalley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I already had a copy I had picked up free from Amazon, but was more than happy to accept the offer from NetGalley so I could read the book a bit sooner. Thanks NetGalley!

Synopsis: Morton Candle is a tough guy. He grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, dodging from mobster-ruled neighborhoods to reform school before the army snapped him up and sent him to Europe to fight Hitler. That's where he met Weatherby Stein, the scion to one of the greatest occult families of Europe. Weatherby and his parents were being held prisoner by the Nazis, forced to use their supernatural knowledge to aid the Third Reich's war effort.

Morton Candle got Weatherby to safety, but the kid's parents didn't make it. Now it's the 1950s.

Weatherby's a teenager, with his father's knowledge and a chip on his shoulder from the indignities of the modern world. Morton bumps into him again and they decide to go into the only business they can – paranormal private detectives.

This time, Weatherby and Mort have cases that will take them from a vampire's decaying mansion to the mob-controlled streets of Havana. They'll take on roadside attractions gone wrong, hordes of the living dead, and ride against the devil in a high speed car race to the death.

Between them, Weatherby and Mort have a small arsenal and a deep knowledge of matters arcane and bizarre. They'll need brains and brawn to survive in a world where horror, action and hardboiled noir come together in a cataclysmic mix.

My Thoughts: I just couldn’t resist a book with that description; it has all the elements I love – monsters, strange partnerships, mystery... I mean, what’s not to love, right?

Right! This is pulp fiction at its pulpiest, full of fighting, bad guys, monsters, tough guys, lots of guns, and all the goodness you would expect from high-octane fiction. The book contains of several short stories/novellas outlining different cases that Mort Candle and Weatherby Stein take together. While it could have used some more editing (cars have “brakes” not “breaks”, as an example, although a car will certainly break if the brake is not applied in a proper manner... ), the pace was fast enough that I often didn’t really notice the grammatical problems or poorly structured sentences, except subconsciously. I quite enjoyed most of the book and mostly it was easy enough to suspend belief and go with it: except the Route 66/Roadside Mafia story, which sent me into fits of giggles. First of all, a bunch of venomous snakes, let loose together, are not going to, en masse, attack a bunch of humans. They would all be trying to get away from any people, and possibly fighting amongst themselves. Also, when Mort punched that alligator... snicker That one is still making me want to giggle... And the whole thing with the rats? Oh, man – rats are shy creatures, they won’t attack, unless these were super-radiated, evil rats (and they must have been, as they were mutated).

But I really enjoyed these fun little stories – vampires and zombies and mutated rats and all. Great stuff, really fun. If you enjoy pulp fiction, you’ll get a kick out of this book.

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