Occult detective

Occult detective

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 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 by Algernon Blackwood's Dr. John Silence and William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. 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, and Jack Mann. Pulp writer Robert E. Howard created stories about Steve Harrison, an occult detective in the "Strange Detective Stories" magazine.

In the 1970s there were a number of generally unsuccessful attempts at occult detective television series. 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; "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 "" (1972) with Darren McGavin which was made into a short-lived television series.

More recently, "The X-Files" picked up these same themes. Other examples are Doctor Spektor from Gold Key Comics and John Constantine from the comic book series "Hellblazer", "Constantine", a film inspired by the comic, and "Majin Tantei Nōgami Neuro", a Japanese manga, as well as the Japanese anime Yu Yu Hakusho.

External links

* [http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Occult.htm Occult Detectives in the Wold Newton Universe]
* [http://www.gwthomas.org/ghostbreakerindex.htm The Ghostbreakers: The World's Largest Compendium of Occult Detectives]
* [http://occultdetectives.wetpaint.com/ The Occult Detective Armory]

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