Hard Spell ePUB Ê Paperback


  • Paperback
  • 305 pages
  • Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1)
  • Justin Gustainis
  • English
  • 09 June 2015
  • 9780007365692

10 thoughts on “Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1)

  1. carol. carol. says:

    So I'm perusing the shelves of the half price bookstore and happen to find Hard Spell which I was pretty sure was on my TBR list under a special category for some reason Unfortunately I couldn't remember why Was it because the author was a troll Because a librarian said it kicked butt Because it was the next best thing since sliced Harry Potter I took the risk bought it and as soon as I was home checked my GR TBR listWellThe answers were no no and most certainly noBut it was fun in a campy Magnum PI sort of way The kind of way where some of it's predictable some of the characters are a little cut out and a lot of it is downright hokey but still enough action and fun to suck me in Alright I confess I was avoiding a paper as well But stillIt begins with a detective Stan Markowski in the Supernatural Division sloppily breaking up a demon summoning reuiring heroic measures from rookie partner The duo next get called to a back alley killing where the victim has mysterious symbols carved in his head Oh and he's a vampire we can tell because there are fangs when they lift the upper lip Our hero hates vamps I'm sure there's a backstory here that will be revealed to the new partner in due time eyeroll At the scene a mysterious gentleman appears who seems to know almost everything about the case but wants information In order to trade he points them in a couple of directions check the forensics on the wound for the type of instrument No really It turns out he's Master of the City supernatural in chief or The Man as our team decides to call him Calling the head bad guy The Man was a plot used in Alias in the guest episode with uentin Tarantino so all I could think about it when they said it was uentin in a suit saying The Man wants The Man gives them almost nothing else useful clearly withholding information but at least he knows how to use AOL Instant Messenger to get a hold of them later I told you it was campy fun Which reminds me of another silly scene our hero going through his voicemail step by step Yes you read that right Including dialogue from VM prompt lady which is truly annoying when I have to listen to it nevermind read it No chuckles there GustainisSince this is a hard boiled detective story there's a mandatory stop in a lesbian bar to ogle a woman tell a vamp who has been putting the whammy on the clientele to lay low They scare her off by mentioning The Man While our heroes wonder in passing why such a hot beauty needs to use vamp hypnotism they consider it adeuate proof that The Man does in fact wield power among the supernaturalsThere is also the reuisite attempts on the lives of the detectives first by car dash hula girl Medusa which is the best booby haha trap ever There's a ghoul informant and a source that doesn't want to share information until they save his life for which they gratefully endanger him again of course There's the reuired hard ass Captain who does just about everything but asks for their shields until he changes his mind and gives them full and unconditional support including a magic key well not majick as Richard would say but it does open the SWAT lockersI confess I loved the supernatural SWAT team especially the hellhound and her handler That deserved a star right there I liked the self referential black sharpshooter Don't you read the comics man You ever see a bunch of badass superheroes like this without a brother on the crew who went to Ivy League schoolsMy one serious note of appreciation is how Gustainis was willing to have Stan make some hard choices with some emotional fallout I expected one of them and was surprised by the last so that's the kind of thing that levitates the plot a few inches above it's competition For a campy book it does a nice job of balancing the emotion with the action Although some reviews claim both sexism and vulgarity I have to say I didn't find it particularly offensive perhaps because this is a book that is hard to take seriously And perhaps because Stan's kind of sexism reminds me of someone's aging dad a little bit oinkish but ultimately scared respectful of women as evidenced by his behavior with the female detective of a neighboring town Likewise the accusation of vulgarity I thought the epithets were extreme strictly for the outrageousness it's a cop book right So they've got to swear Occasionally I had the nagging feeling I was reading an as seen on tv book you know the kind that starts life as a tv show until someone decides to make a buck extending the universe into print I'm not really complaining though I'd watch this show which I presume is a little bit like NYPD Blue meets True Blood if only NYPD was in a small city in Pennsylvania and no sex was involved Okay so maybe I'd watch the first few episodes or at least until the network cancelled itAnd if I had a paper to writeCross posted at


  2. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    This is the city Scranton PennsylvaniaIt’s a good place to live and raise a family apart from vampires werewolves ghouls wizards and the occasional demon Scranton’s got a “live and let unlive” relationship with the supernatural just like everyplace else But when a vamp puts the bit on an unwilling victim or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell that’s when they call me My name’s Markowski I carry a badge Also a crucifix some wooden stakes a big vial of holy water and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets I was never a Boy Scout but “Be Prepared” is still a good motto to live by Especially if you plan to keep on livingYou can hear Joe Friday’s voice from the old TV series Dragnet every time Detective Stan Markowski opens his mouth The tough guy platitudes that are sprinkled throughout just about every conversation in this book are ones we have all heard and dare I say might be on purpose as a Justin Gustainis nod to a bygone era of pulp magazines and tough guy TV shows Jack Webb is Joe FridayMarkowski works for the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation department A department that gets a lot of latitude given the nature of the cases they are asked to investigate Anything involving Supes Supernatural lands on Markowski’s desk When vampires start showing up dead by creative means and have ancient symbols carved into their bodies he is of two minds about the case On the one hand “the only good vampire is a dead vampire” but on the other hand there is the nagging concern that even though the undead are the victims it is still happening in Markowski’s city and he does carry the badgeThe case is messy from the start Markowski’s partner at the beginning of book is killed by an enraged knife wielding Goblin going through the DTs of meth addiction His new partner Karl Renfer is one of those people blessed with the ability to read people and say the right things at the right time He handles Markowski’s mood swings from acerbic to well acerbic with a dash of humor that relieves some of the pressures of a case that seems to be going from bad to worse They have to accept the help of a 500 year old vampire who happens to be a very rare species indeed He is also a wizard Vollman comes across as a tame cultured creature but when Stan pushes him too hard his true nature that darkness that has replaced his soul uncoils Vollman raised his head and looked at me He didn’t seem to change expression but I was suddenly very aware that I was sitting opposite a five hundred year old monster who’s probably killed people than I’ve had mealsGustainis populates the novel with characters that really give the novel a bit depth There is a ghoul informant that has a brother who likes to flash his weiner at unsuspecting women Markowski offers to help keep his brother out of jail yet again for information I guess in the greater scheme of things in Scranton a weiner swinging ghoul is the least of their worries There is a SWAT team an acronym for The Sacred Weapons and Tactics Unit I can only hope that Gustainis gets this group involved with the plot in the next novel They have a HELLHOUNDNamed DAISY How cool is that Nice puppyoh what a pretty puppy you are DaisyKarl’s cousin Heidi is a member with attributes not necessary useful to her job but despite the handicap of “formidable breasts” she is uite capable of kicking any Supe or Human ass that gets in her way There is a Jesuit named Garrett packing a flamethrower and Shiro Kyotake a edged weapons specialist along with several other highly trained and specialized members that would be interesting to see utilized in future booksRachel Proctor is a witch employed by the department Markowski out of leads convinces her to help him raise the spirit of one of the dead again vampires to find out who killed them This has disastrous results when she is taken over by the spirit of a malicious vindictive wizard vampire Markowski packing plenty of guilt from his life already stacks on a bit There are a pair of Inuisition loving preachers who are moonlighting as witch hunters If I had been Markowski I would have introduced that duo to Daisy Creepy witch hunting preacher x 2There is a Lacey Brennan an occult crimes detective from nearby town that is brought into the case She is not only gorgeous but also shows a decided interest in getting to know Markowski intimately She starts every conversation with a stale joke along the lines of How many vampires does it take to screw in a lightbulb I was never bored Gustainis keeps the pages turning and has built a world with potential to just keep getting better and better with each new novel This is an Angry Robot book the second I’ve read in about a month With a compelling plot a nice array of window dressing characters and a world that I wouldn’t mind spending some time in as long as I have my9mm my crucifix my wooden stakes and maybe for just a little extra insurance Buffy Summers as my travelling partner What review isn't improved with a picture of Michelle Gellar My Scranton traveling companion of choiceI will definitely be checking out the second book in the series Recommended for a stress reducer or if you are fighting the flu or if you just want a break from an unpleasant task


  3. Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Maja (The Nocturnal Library) says:

    The city of Scranton Pennsylvania abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts – vampires werewolves ghouls wizards and the occasional demon Of course with all this magic out in the open the ‘live and let unlive’ policy the city is so proud of doesn’t always work out very well There are witches who use black magic a vampire is likely to bite an unwilling victim especially if he thinks he can get away with it and goblins have developed a liking for bank robberies and meth The Occult Crime Unit where only the best and the craziest detectives can find their place was formed to deal with such cases My name is Markowski I carry a badgeWhen a wizard turned vampire gets killed in the most gruesome way detective Stanley Markowski and his new partner are called to investigate Normally Stan wouldn’t lose much sleep over a dead vampire or ten but this case feels like the beginning of something much larger and far dangerous As it turns out the vampire was the keeper of an incredibly dangerous book called Opus Mago Here’s how the leader of the supernatural community explains it Making use of the spells contained in the Opus Mago would be similar to what a friend of mine once said about studying the work of the philosopher Hegel one must be highly intelligent in order to do such and profoundly stupid to wish to It would seem that one such person has arrived in Stranton and it’s now up to Stan and his partner Karl to stop him or her while there’s still timeWhenever I discover an exciting new urban fantasy series I feel like a child on Christmas morning Thanks to Justin Gustainis I’ve opened my presents early this year I have to be honest here I was a little skeptical when I reuested Hard Spell I thought it might be ok at best but I never even considered the possibility that it would be this good A male author and a male protagonist are very uncommon in urban fantasy – that’s why the uality of this book makes me even happier Gustainis did everything right his world is just dark enough to make you worry about the characters there are enough funny moments to break the tension and the plot doesn’t drag for a second I’ll probably reread this book some day


  4. ᴥ Irena ᴥ ᴥ Irena ᴥ says:

    Imagine a supernatural stereotype You can probably find it here I thought I'd like this than I didI have to try very hard to think of characters from other books that talk than these do A reader needs an explanation Two people start talking about a thing even though they both know about it World information There is a small flood of info dumping in the beginning but it is later spread eually throughout the book conversations Markowski's inner thoughts and so on They are in a hurry An inner angel and demon argue about stuffThere is a big bad trying to do something horrible More talk of courseAs I said there are many many stereotypes in the story It might not be a bad thing if in the obvious attempt to mock them the story doesn't go overboard with it It crosses the line a bit so parts are kind of boring Why a higher rating then Well a couple of moments in this book made me want to read the next book hoping the stuff that annoyed me in this one is gone


  5. Jennifer Estep Jennifer Estep says:

    Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis is the first book in his Occult Crimes Unit Investigation urban fantasy seriesStan Markowski is a detective in Scranton Pennsylvania who's responsible for policing all the things that go bump in the night like vampires werewolves goblins wizards and other supernatural creatures aka supes In fact Stan is on what's known as the Supe Suad the Occult and Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit Stan has his hands full with his job and he has some other issues too namely being assigned a new partner after his old one is killed in the line of duty and his strained relationship with his daughter But when someone starts brutally torturing and killing supes Stan's determined to catch the perp before he strikes again I have a fondness for detective books and noir fiction and the thing I liked best about this book was the noir feel and world weary narration of Stan He's very wry and almost deadpan throughout the whole book and I liked his voice As I was reading I could almost hear someone like Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon saying Markowski's linesThe plot is entertaining and it's interesting to watch Markowski piece together the clues about what's really going on There are also a couple of nice twists with Markowski's daughter and his partner I won't spoil them here except to say that Gustainis introduces some plot elementsbackstory throughout the book then ties it all together nicely at the endOne other thing to note is that there aren't any chapters per se in this book just scene breaksOverall if you like books with hard boiled feel to them you should check out this seriesNotedisclaimer I was asked by the author to give a cover blurb for this book which I did My blurb is A winning mix of urban fantasy and hard boiled detective fiction


  6. Nicky Nicky says:

    Hard Spell isn't the best thing I've ever read but it was fun fairly typical in some ways for urban fantasy but still compelling enough that I finished it and have grabbed the second book from my TBR pile There's a lot of male gaze y stuff going on with a couple of blatant male fantasy characters but there are some surprises too the main character starts with some prejudices pretty well fixed but he's able to change with the circumstances which makes for a pretty satisfying endOverall the plot is nothing new but the writing is solid and it avoids shoehorning in sex and romance as the most important thing which other urban fantasy can fall afoul of In fact that's not a thing at all here the leading lady in Stan Markowski's life is his daughter Christine if anything He does have a tragic past etc which all sets up how the story works out but at least that all hangs together coherently There's some cool world building done on the premise that supernatural creatures are a part of the world for good SWAT teams exist but mean something else entirely for exampleThis is a pretty ambivalent review I know It's pretty much a hey Gustainis better impress me next time kind of review


  7. Mike (the Paladin) Mike (the Paladin) says:

    I was a little stressedambivalent about the rating here had we half stars I'd have gone 25 On the other hand I didn't want to go a simple 2 as that means for me that it's verging between almost dislike and dislike The book itself is pretty good but there are things about it that truly bug meFirst just so you know some of what I don't care for comes from my own pet peeve list I'm reading the books at least the first couple but I really don't care for sympathetic vampires I subscribe to the DraculaNosferatu even Buffy the Vampire Slayer school of vampires In short that vampires are not the people they look like but other creatures residing in the dead body of the person the turned NOW NOTE THAT IS NOT THE TEMPLATE OF THIS BOOK HERE VAMPS ARE APPARENTLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN KILLED AND THEN SOMEHOW BECOME UNDEAD AND NOW CONSUME BLOOD THEY CAN BE BAD OR GOODSo know that going in There are a lot of books out there with good friendly romantic evensparkly vampires This series will join that groupSo what have we got Our hero is a cop who works the Supe Suad Supernatural Suad He and his partner investigate crimes against supes and by supes Here they catch a series of murders of vampires The thing is they don't seem to be you simple run of the mill vampire murders that is if there are simple run of the mill vampire murders They aren't even victims of a simple run of the mill serial killer of vampires see above note No these maymay be part of something This is a pretty good book It's got some flaws in the writing though not many I have the audio book from Audible and the reader is again okay not great There are some odd voice choices I'm a Christian and we get a couple of stereotypical religious fanatics Our reader chooses to give them a hick southern accent even though they are from New England That did bug me a littleStill all in all not a bad book I bought the first 2 so I'll move on to the next If it runs about eual to this one I doubt I'll spend or use another credit on them so the verdict is still out on the series for meI'd say give it a chance and see for yourself Some of you will like these much better than I do I'm sure


  8. Blodeuedd Finland Blodeuedd Finland says:

    Original review posted over at Book Lovers IncI always say that you should try all kinds of genres and books that are out there but do I follow it Not really and that is why I wanted to try this book It is urban fantasy but not the kind I am used to No kick ass woman in leather and sexual tension between her and whoever alpha hottie that is around Instead we have an older guy a detective in this old school detective novel with supernatural elements I am thinking of that hardboiled fiction well ok not that violent but you get the general idea It’s just the general tone of the book and I could so well see this in black and white on the screen With that in mind I started readingHard Spell is about Stan a detective who works investigating crimes done by and to supernaturals Together with his partner he gets a hard and messy crime to figure out Someone is killing supernaturals and if they can’t stop that person all hell will break loose He is struggling with a new partner his own past and his dislike for vampires It’s not a good day in ScrantonYes Stan is certainly not like the main characters I am used to His is a lot older and he has seen a lot He is uite serious too at times and just hard on the edges But I like him because he took his job seriously and he is good at it His partner Karl is a newbie on the force and they work together well New and old a good team Karl also brings in a bit of humor even if we get it through Stan’s sarcastic eyes But it is all funIt’s a bloody and dark world; they are cops so they see the worst things the city has to offer If you like cop shows then you will like this book and if you like your UF with a detective theme and without any romantic entanglements then this is the story for you Though I as the eternal romantic do have a woman in mind for Stan because he is not blind and he has checked someone out So who knows if he will find a good woman at the endI did like the book because it was fast paced I wondered if they would catch the bad guy and if Stan would soften up a bit you will just have to read and find out But is it my kind of genre Perhaps not I do need tiny flicker of romance to root for and I will just stick to my normal UF But that does not mean that I cannot enjoy a book like this Because in the end it is a good book


  9. Mrs. Badass Mrs. Badass says:

    This was a fast paced interesting novel It reminded me a lot of Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher which was a good thing as I love Harry It's not that Stan reminded me of Harry per say just the way the novel was written Justin has a very loose style of writing It flows naturally out of the MC There are not a lot of Male protagonists written by a man which was I reuested to read this novel from Angry Robot via Netgalley I'm glad I didStanley is a Sergeant with the Scranton PA Supe Suad Supes are everywhere and have converged on Scranton due to it's ley lines Most are pretty bad but occasionally you find a supe with an honor codeI like that Stanley wasn't perfect He made mistakes and he owns up to them and tries his damnedest to make them rightWhen a series of gruesome torture murders shows up on the grid Stan and his partner Karl set off to investigate There were a lot of surprises in this novel One was Christine the other was his wife I felt for Stan I really did He had it rough for a whileHard Spell is a fairly dark and gritty book It has it's gruesome moments along with some funny lines I love books that combine horror and humor You need that balance sometimesThere is no romance in this novel Bummer no sex Below slight ending spoiler Read at own riskview spoilerI'll admit to being surprised at the end I thought Stan was asking Rachel to do something different when He asked her to bring Karl to Christine hide spoiler


  10. Cathy Cathy says:

    Social networking in action This one has had uite a buzz on Twitter and I was eager to try it It lived up to the rep I enjoyed it very much It has a neat style coming across primarily as a sort of cool police procedural with lots of rough language dry with very old cop show style Plus vampire and witches and goblins and many supernatural things And taking place in Scranton PA a departure in and of itself It started off a bit well not slow by any means it was interesting throughout but it wasn't exactly a page turner in the beginning it just wasn't that kind of story at first At the beginning we were introduced to the characters and the interesting investigation was rolled out I enjoyed seeing how all of the pieces of the puzzle were appearing and learning about the characters as we went along as well But as the investigation built momentum an element of jeopardy was introduced and it became a real page turner as well Anyone who likes CSI or police shows should really enjoy this book as well as anyone who enjoys smart and well written urban fantasy 


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Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1)[Reading] ➿ Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1) Author Justin Gustainis – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation UnitLike the rest of America Scranton's got an uneasy 'live and let unlive' relationship with the supernat Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation UnitLike the rest of America Scranton's got an uneasy 'live and let unlive' relationship with the supernatural But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell that's when they call Markowski He carries a badge Also a crucifix some wooden stakes a big vial of holy water and a mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.