Praise for Justin Gustainis
"A cool mix of cop show and creature feature. Gustainis had me at 'meth-addicted goblins'."
– Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the Skinners series
"A magical mystery tour of a murder case rife with supernatural suspects. Sit down for an enchanted evening of otherworldly entertainment."
– Laura Resnick, author of Unsympathetic Magic and Vamparazzi
"The cops act like real cops, the vampires act like real vampires, and the monsters aren't messing about. The plot twists and turns like a twisty turny thing, and moves like a weasel on speed. The real things feel real, and the supernatural things feel like they might be. The prose is a joy to read, and the whole thing was more fun than is probably legal."
– Simon R Green, author of A Walk on the Nightside
"Punchy dialogue, a fun alternate history, explosive action, and a hero whose monsters haunt him even beyond the job… Gustainis has given us a fantastic supernatural cop story that just dares you to put it down."
– Chris Marie Green, author of the Vampire Babylon and Bloodlands books
"I enjoyed every page of Hard Spell. If Sam Spade and Jack Fleming were somehow melted together, you'd get Stan Markowski. I can't wait to see what Gustainis does next."
– Lilith Saintcrow, author of Night Shift and Working for the Devil
ALSO BY JUSTIN GUSTAINIS
Black Magic Woman
The Hades Project
Sympathy for the Devil
AN OCCULT CRIMES UNIT INVESTIGATION
In memory of A.R. Montanaro, Jr. The Rhino lives on, in our hearts
"There's a conflict in every human heart – between the
rational and the irrational,
between good and evil.
And good does not always triumph."
– General Corman, in Apocalypse Now
"Your enemy the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour."
– 1 Peter 5:8
"There's nothing in the dark that isn't there
when the lights are on."
– Rod Serling
The city is Scranton. The name is Markowski. I carry a badge. The monsters from your nightmares are real, all of them. If you live in my town, protecting you from them – and vice versa – is my job.
That's pretty much all you need to know about who I am and what I do.
There are a few things in this life that I really hate, and two of them are fairies and heights.
Fairies piss me off because they act so goddamn superior. Just because they can fly, and they're all so fucking beautiful – males and females, both – and they can shift at will from Earth to Fairyland and back again, it makes them all think they're hot shit. The default setting on the average fairy's face is a smirk, and in more than one case I've been tempted to wipe it off – with my fist.
As for heights – I need to explain something about that. It's not altitude all by itself that scares me – it's only something that I might fall from and get killed that gives me the willies.
A few years back, I was in New York for a supe cop conference, and I used my free time to do some touristy stuff. So after the boat tour around the Statue of Liberty, I went to the Empire State Building and took the elevator up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor. You get a great view of the city, and I thought it was spectacular. Of course, the deck has a waist-high wall around it, and that's topped by a large gauge metal fence, and there's barbed wire on top of that – if you want to fall off that thing, you're gonna have to work at it. I wasn't nervous at all.
On the other hand, if you put me in one of those flimsy platforms the window washers use when they clean the building, I'd probably shit myself. I don't care if those guys think it's safe and do it every fucking day – I want something more between me and oblivion than a big plank of wood, some scaffolding, and a couple of cables. I haven't got agrophobia, or whatever they call it – I'm just not interested in doing any experiments with the force of gravity from half a mile in the air.
So, with all that, how is it I found myself on a two-footwide ledge that fronts the Bank Tower Building, twelve stories up from street level, trying to talk a fairy out of taking the Big Dive?
The answer to that is kinda complicated.
What happened was all my fault, too – well, most of it. Sooner or later, the lesson is going to sink into my thick Polack skulclass="underline" never leave early for work. Every time I do, something happens – and it's never the kind of stuff that makes me smile when I think about it later.