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Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #1)
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Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1)

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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,541 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Meet Stan Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit

“Like 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 me.

“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.

“Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big
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Kindle Edition, 262 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carol.
Apr 18, 2013 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of A.Martinez

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 list.

Well.

The answers were no, no, and most certainly no.

But it was fun, i
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Jeffrey Keeten
This is the city--Scranton, Pennsylvania.
It’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
...more
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
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 ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I was a little stressed....ambivalent about the rating here. had we half stars I'd have gone 2.5. 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 me.

First just so you know some of what I don't care for comes from my own pet peeve list. I'm reading the book(s) (at least the first couple) but I really don't care for "sympathetic" vampires. I subs
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So, I Read This Book Today
Jul 20, 2014 So, I Read This Book Today rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Urban Fantasy
Recommended to So, I Read This Book Today by: Publisher
"My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets." - Markowski, Hard Spell

Death is when the monsters get you. - Stephen King

Scranton, Pennsylvania fifty years after WWII is a different place than one might expect. When millions of Americans poured into Europe to fight in the war, they picked up a little something extr
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Preethi
I liked this book a lot. Hard Spell is a mix of dark Urban Fantasy, crime/buddy cop, and noir. The plot is well developed. The pacing is good. The story is well-written and I loved Stan Markowski's serious and wry voice throughout the book. There are vampires, witches, wizards, goblins, and many more creatures in this book.

One interesting fact about this book is that it is written by a male author and it has a male POV. With many such books, it's either a hit or miss with me, and I was quite hap
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Mike (the Paladin)
I was a little stressed....ambivalent about the rating here. had we half stars I'd have gone 2.5. 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 me.

First just so you know some of what I don't care for comes from my own pet peeve list. I'm reading the book(s) (at least the first couple) but I really don't care for "sympathetic" vampires. I subs
...more
Blodeuedd Finland
Original review posted over at Book Lovers Inc

I 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 more old school detective novel with supernatural elements. I am thinking of that more hardboil
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Mrs. Badass
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 requested to read this novel from Angry Robot via Netgalley. I'm glad I did!

Stanley is a Sergeant with the Scranton, PA Supe Squad
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Cathy
Social networking in action! This one has had quite 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 more 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 thr ...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Estep
Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis is the first book in his Occult Crimes Unit Investigation urban fantasy series.

Stan 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 Squad (the Occult and Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit). Stan has his hands full with his job, and he has some other is
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Sheila
In a world where the paranormal is just another dark part of normal, cops will surely need a specialized crime squad to deal with magic and myth. Author Justin Gustainis provides just the team, with Detective Stan Markowski , who carries badge and crucifix, wooden stakes and more. SWAT team takes on a whole new meaning (Sacred Weapons and Tactics) but works the same way, and violence and politics continue their underhand agreements, just as in the real world. Just read the Scranton Times-Tribune ...more
Teya
Urban Fantasy + kryminał + główny bohater polskiego pochodzenia + aspiracje do teatralności rodem z filmu noir – co może pójść źle?

No, jak się okazuje, bardzo dużo. Zacznę od pół-zarzutu, gdyż to mógł nie być problem historii, a zaledwie bardzo dobra stylizacja. Otóż nasz bohater jest strasznie pokrzywdzony i nie pisze o tym za dużo, ale daje nam do zrozumienia, że przez jego polskość padł ofiarą pewnego prześladowania (szczególnie ze strony demonicznych (przenośnie) zakonnic w dzieciństwie). Ni
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Dean
Feb 08, 2014 Dean rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dean by: Justin Gustainis
"Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent."

OK, I know, that's from "Dragnet."

That was my first take when I started reading this book.
I was hearing Joe Friday in my head.
"This is the city - Scranton, Pennsylvania." - Stan Markowski-Police Officer-Occult Crimes Unit
Get it?
I think Gustainis did.

First disclosure: I received a copy of this book/series from the author requesting an "honest review."
Mr. Gustainis hit me up in the
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Ken
"Hard Spell" was a great introduction to "new to me" author, Justin Gustainis.

Gustainis' detective, Stan Markowski, operates in a world where vampires, ghouls, trolls and werewolves are common place. Markowski's job on the Scranton Police Department's Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit has him investigating crimes that cross into the supernatural (supe) community or often where the supe community and the human world collide. He walks a philosophical tightrope, balancing the intricacies of hi
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Nikki
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 end.

Ov
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Qwill / The Qwillery
Hard Spell is the first book in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series by Justin Gustainis. I've read a lot of books recently that include some sort of supernatural crime investigation unit - either with humans policing supernaturals, with supernaturals as police/law enforcement or both. I have not read anything quite like this.

While I am not an expert on noir, Hard Spell is definitely noirish. Stan Markowski, the main character, is fairly hard-boiled, he's got an air of desperation about
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Dark Faerie Tales
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A suspense filled supernatural detective story, with a little day-to-day realism thrown in for good measure.

Opening Sentence: This is the city – Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The Review:

Here is what I like about Hard Spell; the detectives come across like their real counterparts. Real police officers have to put themselves into real danger, and are forced to make split second decisions with lasting consequences. Given their inherently important job
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Maria Schneider
Full review is being carried at www.DailyCheapReads.com. I'll update and put the review here next week. In short--good pulp wizard fiction. Hard boiled. On sale at Amazon in their Big Something or other sale. Worth a look. From my review:

If you like hard-boiled crime fiction and wizardry, this is the book for you. Hard Spell is edgy, dark and spell-binding. It starts with: “My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.” That sets the tone, and the succinctness gives you an idea of the pace: non-stop, t
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Stephanie
Sadly, I am about to "date myself"by referencing a TV show actually older I am! Stan Markowski, the Detective Sergeant who wrote the How to Recognize a Vampire Guest Post yesterday is a lot of Dragnet's Joe Friday and a lot of CSI or another modern police procedural drama. Now, Dragnet's Joe Friday, played by the shows creator and producer, Jack Webb, would start each episode off by describing a person and a crime then he would say, My name is Friday. I carry a badge

This is a good example of Urb
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Jen
Its a real honest to goodness Detective story! When I first got this book in the mail, one look at the cover and the voice of Dan Aykroyd from Dragnet (1987) popped in my head - and THAT is the voice of Stan :)

This book is awesome! It starts off explaining the way the Supernatural’s (Supes) came to be known to the world (when Vamps and Were's came home from WW II ) and now living in an everyday life with the rest of us plain old humans .

Stan Markowski is a human - and he's a Decective - but he
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Trekscribbler
HARD SPELL Ain't No 'Hard Sell'

“My name is Markowski. I carry a badge.” And so it begins, the continuing saga of Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit lead detective, Stan Markowski, as detailed by author Justin Gustainis in the Angry Robot imprint, HARD SPELL.

To be fair, this is the second book I’ve read off the Angry Robot imprint. The first one? Well, let’s just leave it at it was written by another author, and I found it so confusing that I didn’t even write a review. HARD SPELL, on the other han
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jD
Hard Spell was so much more than what I expected. I have not read any other work by Justin Gustainis but I can tell by this offering that he is a talented writer.

The hero and main character is Officer Stan Markowski. He is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. In Markowski's world supernatural beings such as weres, vamps, gobblins, witches, and nightmare creatures are real and have civil rights. I purchased this book earlier in the summer shortly after
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Laurie
I loved this book! Set in Scanton, Pennsylvania, a veritable hotbed of paranormal activity, Stan Markowski and his new partner, Karl Renfer, race the clock trying to find out who ritualistically killed a powerful vampire magician. When a spell goes seriously awry, Stan is unwittingly responsible for putting another close friend and colleague in terrible danger.

The uneasy, untested relationship between Stan and Karl was realistic and believable. As their partnership gained cohesion there develope
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Beth Cato
I used to be a Law & Order junkie. I watched every incarnation of the show. As soon as I started reading this book, I had to laugh, as it immediately struck me as Law & Order detectives investigate the paranormal. The voice is thick and heavy, abounding with profanity and dry wit, with a gravelly noire feel. Sure, it's a cliche, but one that has some truth to it from what I've seen. Plus, why mess with a good formula? You have a cop who recently lost his partner. You have the new partner ...more
Paul
Meet Stan Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit

“Like 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 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…

When I read an author’s work for the first time I tend to go
...more
Mike
The first thing that drew me to Justin Gustainis’ Hard Spell is the cover. The layout, title and art style are all explicitly designed to mimic that of Hard Case Crime, itself a recent imprint (founded in 2004) whose covers are known to mimic pulp covers of the 40s and 50s. Always on the lookout for clever use of the fantastic combined with pulpish fun Hard Spell quickly jumped to the top of my read list. While Gustainis has written several other novels in the Urban Fantasy vein this is my first ...more
Bending The Bookshelf
My name's Markowski. I carry a badge.

As you might expect from the hard-boiled detective novel cover, not to mention his deadpan introduction, Stan Markowski, the hero of Justin Gustainis' Hard Spell, is a Detective Sergeant of the Stranton PD.

Also a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9 mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

What makes this such a fun story, however, is the fact that Stan is a Detective Sergeant for the Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. Part Joe F
...more
Shera (Book Whispers)
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The first 20 to 30 pages of this book were an utter fail for me. The potential was there, but the book kept jumping around all willy-nilly. To me a good book doesn’t need to throw things out randomly at the beginning to build the story and the world, the author reveals it bit by bit through the eyes of the character. Despite this terrible start, Hard Spell pulls out beautifully and delivers a fantastic investigative story that gives readers a gritty insight to being a Detecti
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Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings.

After earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army.

Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State U
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More about Justin Gustainis...

Other Books in the Series

Occult Crimes Unit Investigation (3 books)
  • Evil Dark (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #2)
  • Known Devil (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #3)
Black Magic Woman (Quincey Morris, #1) Evil Dark (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation, #2) Evil Ways (Quincey Morris, #2) Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives Sympathy for the Devil  (Quincey Morris, #3)

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“My name is 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 living.”
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“on meth." Matthews shook his head. "Just what we fuckin' need.” 1 likes
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