Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Occult Files of Albert Taylor

I rather over-promised on plugs and reviews of books from some of my writing and publishing friends during the last couple of months, but I am working through my stack of stuff, and come now to Derek Muk’s collection The Occult Files of Albert Taylor.

I know Derek by way of the M-Brane slush pile. He has submitted stories to me a few times, and I included his item “Croatoan” in M-Brane #7. His usual genre as a writer is stories of the paranormal and the occult, which is not my usual genre as a reader. Nonetheless, he tells his stories with an appealing energy and enthusiasm that is quite engaging. Indeed, these stories put me in mind of paranormal TV shows, especially the 1970s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and its indirect offspring The X-Files, both of which I enjoyed quite well, the former being a classic "guilty pleasure" and the latter being one of the best TV series of the last couple of decades. I was also, as a child, a big fan of Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of... which was one of the scariest programs on TV (for a kid of my age at the time), and which covered much of the same ground that we find in this book.

The back cover describes the collection thus:
“Meet Albert Taylor, an anthropology professor who investigates cases of the supernatural on the side. Welcome to this macabre gallery of horrors that includes such case as Jack the Ripper, Bigfoot, the Boogeyman, the Spanish Inquisition, ghosts, cults, and more!”

I’ll confess that I was skeptical about the prospect of stories featuring such things as Jack the Ripper and Bigfoot, but “Dear Boss” (about the former) and “Footprints” (about the latter) were both good fun and concluded in rather surprising ways. “Competition” is a fun tale of vampirism in Hawaii, while we have UFOs and ET’s in “Ghost Town” and “The Sun Disc.” There are creepy haunting investigations in “Lynch Mansion” and “Asylum,” and a bizarre mystery enfolds “The Exhibit” of some Spanish Inquisition artifacts. I’m loath to say too much specifically about any of the stories since they are rather prone to spoilers. But if paranormal investigations are your thing, be sure to check out this book.

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