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on 31 January 2008
Thomas Carnacki is a ghost-finder, a supernatural detective who explores so-called hauntings. Sometimes these cases turn out to the machinations of scheming humans, sometimes atmospheric phenomena - and occasionally supernatural forces from beyond. The joy of these stories is that you never know which will be the actual cause. The result is always unexpected, especially in the brilliant story "The Hog". Hodgson's stories are laced with suspense and atmosphere. Carnacki is just as equally at home tackling the supernatural as he is using state-of-the-art technical equipment to expose fake hauntings. This is a rare gem - and anyone seeking pure pulp fiction with great atmosphere will find the Casebook of Thomas Carnacki a truly satisfying read.
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on 24 September 2010
These nine stories from 1910-12 take the form of after-dinner entertainment narrated,by Carnacki to his awestruck chums.Thomas Carnacki is an investigator of supernatural phenomena.He is usually invited to the haunted location by the terrified owners and the examination begins.He is open minded and methodical,with a Holmes-like eye for detail.He uses a fascinating array of scientific apparatus including the "Electric Pentacle"in his examinations and usually stays the night.This is not much of a character study nor does it need to be.It is an outstanding collection of top-notch scary stories some of which have genuine unsettling moments,and all of which are much better than one would expect.Particlarly memorable are 'The whistling room'with a vast CGI-like mouth forming itself out of the floor and 'The hog'featuring a huge,grunting pig-demon.

Hodgson is a master of creating unsettling atmospheres with smells and sounds and unique imagery.As we follow Carnacki's scientific investigations,the reader is not sure if Hodgson will give us a supernatural or human culprit.Some of these stories enter the realm of truly wierd cosmic horror with physical laws bending as nightmare entities encroach upon our reality.Sometimes,what begins in that cosy Victorian or Edwardian literary world,ends up as some insane multi-dimensional nightmare.Carnacki himself adds to our uneasiness by frequently admitting his own fear.These are stories to be savoured,maybe read after dinner on a dark night with a brandy and a fine cigar or read them to the kids and pretend you are Carnacki."Do you see?do you?"

William Hope Hodgson produced many great wierd stories in his sadly short career,The House on the Borderland and The Night Land are highly recommended.The Night Land is extraordinary.
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on 18 April 2007
I should point out that I read an older edition of these stories, simply called "Carnacki the Ghost Finder". It's got all the same stories in it though, so I'm not sure what's been edited in this edition. Anyway, the previous reviewer compared Carnacki to both Holmes and Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, which is a fair comparison. While it's true that Holmes has rather more characterisation, I cannot agree with that reviewer over John Silence. The Carnacki stories are far more entertaining and well-written. In contrast, the John Silence stories are rather po-faced, with no characterisation at all, unless Blackwood's almost homoerotic descriptions of Silence's powerful, wise eyes, unusually calm demeanour and ability to radiate confidence count. I also prefer the Carnacki retold first person narrative style, which means his character comes across more through his phrasing. He's clearly an excitable individual, repeatedly leaning forward to ask his enthralled audience "Can you imagine it? Can you?"

I'm not really into "weird" stories, so I found the ghostless stories worked better than the others, but then detective stories are fraught with problems when the "baddie" doesn't follow natural rules which can be systematically followed. My eyes did glaze over with descriptions of pentacles and the accompanying paraphernalia, but you get exactly the same sort of thing with John Silence (maybe I should review those next). Altogether good fun for dark nights. Can you imagine it? Can you?
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on 11 August 2012
I must confess to being a fan of occult detective fiction and thus as soon as I stumbled across this book I was intrigued and excited by the prospect of reading it. And I have certainly not been dissapointed. The Caseboook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder is an essential read for all fans of the genre, and I would ecertainly go as far as to deem them the best occult detective stories written to date.
It is of course arguable that the character of Carnacki himself is somewhat one dimensional, but somehow this does not matter, for it gives him an enigmatic persona that is deeply likeable. The fact, also, that he is always so sincere and honest about the fear he feels in the face of the supernatural threats he encounters adds to the sense of authenticity the character possesses. The stories also follow a ridgid formula but again this never seems to matter for it seems to give the entire book itself a sense of character and life, an impression I have seldom before experiecnced during reading.
And it gets better. The fact that the characterisations are - arguably - a little one dimensional means nothing when compared to the rich and believable world that the author, W. H. Hogson, has created. The bacgroud detail is both delightful and fascinating in equal measure, and the sense of realism contained within the descriptions of the supernatural encounters makes for trully chilling reading. Indeed the Carnacki stories are some of the few I have read that have, in a genuine way, filled me with a sense of unease. Overall a truly delightful, fascinating, and above all, terrifying read. Chooosing favourites from among the nine stories is almost impossible, but for me the ones which paticularly stand out are; "The Gateway of the Monster", "The Whistling Room" and "The Searcher at the End House".
In short, the best occult detective tales in the genre...just don't read them before you go to bed!
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on 30 December 2012
This collection of short stories, all of which have what seems to be a supernatural happening in them is interesting in that sometimes the supernatural is real and sometimes it is a complete fake. The truth is rarely revealed until very near the end of each story and in all of them the author manages to create an atmosphere of mystery and sometiems horror. Not a great book but one well worth reading.
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on 21 April 2014
A very enjoyable read. Very much in the Sherlock Holmes vein of writing - a private specialist rather than a street detective. The stories are a nice mix of genuine supernatural and faked haunting - some of the fakes are less believable because of their sheer complexity. I only gave the book 4 stars because the author tended to end his stories in somewhat of a rush - almost as if he only had access to a certain number of words. Alas, that his death prevented the second volume of Carnacki the Ghost Finder. Put this book between your Sherlock Holmes and your H P Lovecraft.
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on 12 June 2011
Hodgson's Carnacki stories are brilliant short stories, hodgson is a fantastic writer and able to really describe the scene's with a vividness that is quite unique.

Hodgson's work is a gem, it's steal at this price and a very enjoyable read.
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on 7 April 2007
There are nine short stories in this collection: four supernatural, two with just an incidental element of haunting and three that only seem to be spooky until properly investigated and found to be cases of mundane trickery. Comparisons have been drawn between Hodgson's Carnacki, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Algernon Blackwood's John Silence. In my opinion, as an admirer of Conan Doyle and Blackwood, these comparisons are misleading. Both Conan Doyle's and Blackwood's characters have depth, the stories are well constructed and elegantly written. Holmes employs sound, scientific methods and Silence uses recognisable and plausible (at least as described by the stories' narrator) psychic methods. Carnacki, on the other hand, uses pseudo-scientific techniques which he partly and vaguely explains using various made-up words, gobbledygook and mumbo-jumbo - a sort of 'psycho-babble' with added guns, electric pentacles and circles of psychedelic light. Strange stuff!

Hodgson certainly had a fertile imagination and all the tales seem quite original. If only the author had the writing skills to match his boundless imagination - and sufficient attachment to reality to be able to make some of the dafter elements of the stories more believable. The writing style doesn't sparkle. There's a monotonous repetition of the same words over and over. The word 'queer' for example, is practically worn out by over-use. Random initial capitals are scattered abundantly throughout the text. The characters are thin and flat. Each story is presented in the same way: Carnacki successfully concludes a case, then he invites four of his friends round to dinner, nobody mentions the case until they've finished the food and seated themselves comfortably in their customary chairs to listen to the story. Carnacki tells them what happened and when he's finished one or two might ask a question to clarify some point or other. The interrogator is usually Dodgeson, or occasionally Arkright. As far as I recall, Jessop and Taylor (the other two friends) never utter so much as a word. Then their host herds them unceremoniously out of his house. One of the four, Dodgeson, always narrates (like Sherlock Holmes's friend Watson). The pattern never varies.
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on 16 December 2012
apart from about 4 of the stories it stated to become fairly predictable that most of the solutions would end up with fairly long winded hcus pocus explanations. I found it in the main a bit boring
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on 3 September 2011
This collection of stories is very hit and miss: some are outstanding examples of gothic ghost stories, others are completely interminable. The ones that work best are the ones with human skullduggery behind the seemingly supernatural events. There are some great ideas in these stories and flashes of brilliant storytelling. Too often though the language is limited, similar words and phrases are repated over and over and all the stories start and end in exactly the same way. There's a lot of pseudo-scientific nonsense throughout, not least Carnacki's mysterious "electric pentangle", and many of the characterisations are a little thin. That's a lot of negative and perhaps unfairly so. It's good fun and a real privelige to be able to read these stories in such an accessible format, Wordsworth once again doing a superb job in bringing them to us. Readers may be interested to note one of the tales in this book ("The Horse of the Invisble") was dramatised by Thames Television in the early 70s for the series The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes starring Donald Pleasance as Carnacki.
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