I do like my short stories, and I wasn’t disappointed in this first volume of what promises to be an entertaining series from Michael Panush. These stories follow the adventures of Morton Candle and Weatherby Stein, an unlikely pair who operate a detective agency that specializes in unusual (read paranormal) cases. Each story is a short vignette involving supernatural entities ranging from zombies (a favorite) and vampires to Old Nick himself. The relationship between Stein and Candle unfolds as the stories progress, and we learn how Weatherby was rescued by Candle and his group of American GI’s just as he and his family were being executed by the Nazis. The Stein Family, we learn, has a long history of exploring and controlling supernatural forces, a skill much in demand by Hitler’s Third Reich. Although unable to save Weatherby’s parents, Candle does manage to rescue the small boy and eventually ends up as his guardian and partner in detecting.
The stories are imaginative and just long enough to please. I was often reminded alternately of William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder and Hellboy but found enough originality in the stories to keep me entertained and left me looking forward to Volume 2.