Saturday, February 11, 2012

January Book Club Review

Criminal Macabre

Average Rating - 7.5

Criminal Macabre is one of several stories featuring supernatural detective Cal McDonald. Criminal Macabre follows Cal as he attempts to discover why all the superstitious beliefs regarding the monsters he normally hunts are suddenly coming true.

I See Undead People

The story begins with Cal being questioned by the police, a not uncommon occurrence for the former cop. Since moving to LA Cal has discovered a series of unusual crimes committed by monsters , which isn’t actually the unusual part. All the familiar beasts he is used to hunting have started acting out of character and committing crimes that don’t fall in line with their usual behavior, meeting with humans, robbing museums , and attacking ghouls.

Cal follows the trail only to discover that all the superstitious legends surrounding the monsters he hunts, a wooden stake to heart, silver bullets, holy water and crosses, were all at one time true and now someone is using modern day science to try and bring them all back.

I Don’t Give A #%&*

Is really the only way to describe Cal. He does what he wants when he wants and makes no apologies for any of it. More often than not Cal charges in without a plan gets his ass kicked kills the monster anyway and then tops off the evening with a bottle of whiskey and a random assortment of pills.

“I really liked Cal, sort of a Gregory House MD of monster slaying” - James

Throughout the story we meet several of Cal’s friends, the ghouls, who unlike the rest of the monster world are no threat to humans as they are simply dead bodies with no need for food or motivations for evil. Along with the ghouls Cal also befriends Detective Brueger who initially thinks, like everyone else, that Cal is nuts but quickly changes her mind when a new breed of werewolf rampages through her station.

“Cal is just a big joke and he just doesn’t care, he never has a plan and does what he wants” -Matt

With help from the ghouls and Brueger Cal discovers that once upon a time it really did take more than bullets to take down a monster but that over time their powers dwindled as they were passed on to the next generation. Rather than being worried that his enemies are now bigger, stronger, and much harder to kill, Cal is actually excited for a better fight and charges off with a half-cocked plan to save the world.

“Half way through his job gets infinitely harder and he’s excited about it” - Boutet


The artwork was a major hit and miss topic for this book. Although Templesmith’s style is dark, dank, and well suited to the horror genre it left a lot lacking as a medium for story telling.

Some pieces of art found in the book are beautifully done pieces of dark, spooky, blood splattered work.

Others are so hastily scratched out you might think he had scrawled them after a night of binge drinking.

The stylistic approach works in some places but not in others. People for example can be very hard to distinguish from each other as they often appear like lumpy potatoes with teeth and eyes, the one exception being Brueger who is drawn softer and more carefully than Cal or any of the ghouls.

This “i’m not quite sure who that is " effect combined with the often random appearance of things like say a whales tail lead to a lot of “what?!” moments that leave you flipping back a page to try and figure out what the next one is supposed to be depicting, which at the end of the day lead to a lot of poor reviews on the style.


All for all Criminal Macabre is a great read. Some of us enjoyed the anti-hero Cal and his lets just go kill something attitude while others found him a bit cliche.

“Cal was an off brand Constantine” - Jamie

“ I liked that Cal was a #$&*%^ and he just makes light of it” - Ray

Some of us enjoyed Templesmith’s style while others wanted to slap him and tell him to learn how to draw a damn chin!

“The artwork lacked consistency” - Keenan

“The art was perfect for this kind of story” - Rene

The one thing that everyone could agree on was Steve Niles story telling. It is well paced, engaging, and effortless humorous.

“His pacing has a classic story telling feel “ Remi

“It was really funny, it suited my sense of humor” -Scott

He gives fresh and original takes on the monster world that have scientific rather than supernatural explanations and feature things like harmless monsters that are not often seen in darker horror stories.

“I enjoyed the supernatural theme and the fact that the mythology is explained thoroughly” - Mathieu

“ Its original, dark, yet leaves room for humor” - Gabriel

Ratings Picked the book : Colin - Rating 9

“ Certain scenes were more artistic than others, lots of blood and gore”

Harshest Critic: Rick - Rating 4

“ It looked like he drew the cover pages then went to the bar came home smashed and scribbled the rest”

Besting Rating: Colin/ Scott - Rating 9

Next Months selection : Kingdom Come

Pick up a copy and join us February 29

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