Occult detective fiction

Occult detective fiction

Occult detective stories combine the tropes of the detective story with those of supernatural horror fiction. Unlike the traditional detective the occult detective is employed in cases involving ghosts, curses, and other supernatural elements. He or she is often a doctor inclined to metaphysical speculation.




The first fictional occult detective was Dr Martin Hesselius, five of whose cases are featured in Sheridan Le Fanu's short story collection In a Glass Darkly (1872). The next prominent figure in this tradition was Dr. Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) followed closely by E. and H. Heron's Flaxman Low, featured in a series of stories in Pearson's Magazine (1898–99); Algernon Blackwood's Dr. John Silence and William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki, the Ghost Finder.[1]

Sax Rohmer's collection The Dream Detective features occult detective Moris Klaw, who utilises 'odic force' in his investigations. The occultist Dion Fortune made her contribution to the genre with The Secrets of Dr Taverner (1926), the psychic adventures of the Holmes-like Taverner as narrated by his assistant, Dr Rhodes. Aleister Crowley's Simon Iff featured in a series of stories some of which have been collected in book form. Dennis Wheatley's occult detective is Neils Orsen.

Though never large, the occult detective sub-genre grew to include such writers as Seabury Quinn (with his character Jules de Grandin), Manly Wade Wellman, whose character John Thunstone investigated occult events through short stories in the pulps, collected in The Third Cry to Legba and Other Invocations (2000) and in two novels - What Dreams May Come (1983) and The School of Darkness (1985); and 'Jack Mann' (E. C. Vivian), who chronicled the adventure of his occult detective Gregory Gordon George Green, known as 'Gees', in a series of novels. Pulp writer Robert E. Howard created stories about Steve Harrison, an occult detective in the Strange Detective Stories magazine. Margery Lawrence created the character Miles Pennoyer in her occult detective stories collected in Number Seven, Queer Street.

Modern writers who have used the occult detective theme as a basis for supernatural adventures include Peter Saxon with his 'The Guardians' series, John Burke (Dr Alex Caspian), Frank Lauria (Dr Owen Orient), Lin Carter (Anton Zarnak)and Joseph Payne Brennan (Lucius Leffing). The occult detective theme has also been used with series characters devised by such contemporary writers as Steve Rasnic Tem (Charlie Goode), Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Miss Penelope Pettiweather), David Rowlands (Father O'Connor), Rick Kennett (Ernie Pine), Robert Weinberg (Sydney Taine), Simon R. Green (John Taylor) and Steve Niles (Cal McDonald). Jim Butcher's best-selling book series, The Dresden Files, is another well-known example. The adventures of Carnacki have been continued by A. F. Kidd in collaboration with Rick Kennett in 472 Cheyne Walk: Carnacki, the Untold Stories (2000).

A useful recent anthology collecting specimens of the genre is Mark Valentine (ed) The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths (ISBN 978-1-84022-088-9)Wordsworth Editions, 2009. Earlier themed anthologies include Stephen Jones (ed) Dark Detectives: Adventures of the Supernatural Sleuths (Fedogan & Bremer, 1998) and Peter Haining (ed) Supernatural Sleuths: Stories of Occult Investigators (William Kimber, 1986).

Film and television

In the 1970s, there were a number of attempts at occult detective television series. While not overtly occult detectives, the heroes and heroine of the sixties series The Champions inherited occult powers from a Tibetan lama and used these powers to investigate crime. Other examples include The Norliss Tapes (1973) with Roy Thinnes as a reporter investigating the supernatural; Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970), starring Louis Jourdan as psychologist David Sorrell; Spectre (1977), starring Robert Culp and Gig Young as criminologists turned demonologists; The World of Darkness (1977) and its sequel, The World Beyond (1978), starring Granville Van Dusen as a man who battles the supernatural following his own near death experience; and a British production, Baffled! (1973), starring Leonard Nimoy and Susan Hampshire as a pair of ghost-hunters. The most successful effort of this period was the short-lived television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974), starring Darren McGavin; the weekly series was based on two backdoor pilots (The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler) produced by Dan Curtis and scripted by Richard Matheson based on an unpublished work by Jeff Rice. Kolchak's adventures have been continued in books by Rice and in the comic book Kolchak Tales. Matheson's Kolchak Scripts have also been published.

More recent examples include The X-Files, Angel Heart, Constantine, and a television adaptation of The Dresden Files.


Examples of occult detectives in comic books include Doctor Spektor from Gold Key Comics, Hellboy from the Dark Horse series of same name, Dylan Dog from the Sergio Bonelli Editore series, and John Constantine from the Vertigo series Hellblazer (the basis for the film Constantine). Two Hellblazer writers have gone on to write their own occult detective characters: Sebastien O also at Vertigo by Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis' Gravel from Avatar Press. 2000 AD has featured a number over the years: Bix Barton, Devlin Waugh, Ampney Crucis Investigates and Dandridge. The occult detective team of Syd Deadlocke and Doc Martin, featured in Pulse of Darkness and other comics by Chris G.C. Sequeira, also fits into this genre.

Examples in manga and anime include Majin Tantei Nōgami Neuro and Mushishi, a Japanese manga, as well as the Japanese anime YuYu Hakusho, Ghost Hunt and Ghosts at School.

See also


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Occult detective — stories combine the genres of the detective story with supernatural horror fiction. Unlike the traditional detective the occult detective is employed in cases involving ghosts, curses, and other supernatural elements. He or she is often a doctor… …   Wikipedia

  • Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective — For other uses, see Nightwalker (disambiguation). Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective Night Walker – 真夜中の探偵 (Naito Uōkā – Mayonaka no Tantei ) Genre Occult detective fiction Game …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of science fiction — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to science fiction: Science fiction genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.[1][2][3] Exploring …   Wikipedia

  • The Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok — Volume 1 of the North American Release 魔探偵ロキ RAGNAROK (Matantei Roki RAGNAROK) …   Wikipedia

  • SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, JEWISH — Fantasy is a genre of literature in which realistic narratives are disrupted by unnatural or unexplainable events. The term Science Fiction (SF) emerged during the 1930s as a catchall descriptor for a publishing category with roots traceable to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Portal:Speculative fiction — Shortcut: P:SF …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Occult — Publication information Publisher DC Comics Fir …   Wikipedia

  • science fiction — a form of fiction that draws imaginatively on scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc. [1925 30] * * * Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals, or more… …   Universalium

  • Conspiracy fiction — The conspiracy thriller (or paranoid thriller) is a subgenre of thriller fiction. The protagonists of conspiracy thrillers are often journalists or amateur investigators who find themselves (often inadvertently) pulling on a small thread which… …   Wikipedia

  • Psychic detective — A psychic detective is defined as a person who investigates crimes by using paranormal psychic abilities.A number of people say they have psychic abilities that have allowed them to assist police in solving kidnapping and murder cases, or… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”