The detectives cover the gamut from hard-boiled PI's giving - and getting - low blows on the mean streets to intellectuals expounding on crime in refined quiet rooms. Sleuths include the demon-fighting soccer mom trying to shepherd her daughter safely past demon-snares as well as the normal risks of adolescence, the disgruntled Security sorcerer who battles bureaucracy as well as beasts, and other detectives both amateur and professional.
The paranormal elements are equally varied. In addition to the usual vampires and werewolves, there are demons of compelling variety and more than one style of shape-shifter. Snakes, ugh. Fairy-tale creatures such as gnomes and fairies also appear. The detective isn't necessarily chasing a monster, nor is the monster always the villain. The settings are mostly urban, mostly modern, with an overlay (or underbelly) of fantasy elements.
One reservation about this collection was that some authors presumed a familiarity with their series work and left me faintly lost at first, while others seemed to be trying to fit several novels' worth of back story into the opening paragraphs and slowed the pace accordingly. Apart from that disparity, the collection was a joy to read and introduced me to several paranormal/mystery crossover authors I'd not heard of previously but will certainly follow up now.
All in all, these fourteen stories provide plenty of meat for both the detective-story aficionado and those fascinated by paranormal fiction. And, if you've ever pondered the fictional detective as a reflection of archetypes, Gustainis' introductory essay is a treat.
(This review was previously published on DorothyL and on www.mysterywritersink.blogspot.com)