Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

07 January 2010

Review: Cal McDonald, Monster Hunter


Since I enjoyed MHI (Monster Hunter International) so much, I looked around for some more stuff in a similar vein. An Amazon search turned up some books and graphic novels featuring a character called Cal McDonald. He's the creation of Steve Niles, author of "30 Days Of Night".
Cal is a private detective who specializes in cases dealing with monsters, magic, and general weirdness, through no choice of his own. He seems to be a magnet for the strange. He is assisted by partner Mo'Lock. Mo'Lock is a ghoul. In McDonald's world, ghouls are everywhere,(they seem partial to driving cabs) the only reason most people don't see them is because they don't want to. "Normal" people blind themselves to the existence of monsters, but Cal knows they're everywhere.
While Owen Pitt of MHI is cut from the same cloth as The Punisher, The Executioner, and maybe GI Joe with a dash of James Bond, Cal McDonald is cast from the same mold as the hardboiled film noir detectives like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Mike Hammer. Think Mickey Spillaine meets George A. Romero. While MHI's Owen Pitt doesn't drink or smoke, exercises regularly, keeps in shape and takes care of himself, Cal McDonald chainsmokes anything smokeable, ingests enough alcohol and drugs to make Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas look like The Book Of Mormon, and frequently wakes up amid his own vomit. One thing both Monster Hunters have in common is their ability to soak up a lot of physical damage. I'll have to give the edge in that category to McDonald. It seems that each case results in broken bones, multiple stiches, gunshot wounds, and worse. Guess his supply of Percocet and Lortabs comes in handy. His drug-and-alcohol polluted blood and addled brain have saved his life a few times, in fact. Most monsters, vampires, and cannibals prefer untainted blood, and his drug induced mental haze helped sheild him from a brain sucking creature.
The Cal McDonald stories have earned my recommendation. They're gritty, violent, and original. The fact that I couldn't put the book down (and I'm looking for more) says it all.

1 comment:

Autumnforest said...

Yahoo! That's just the kind of thing I was looking for. It's not along the lines of what I'm writing, so it won't taint my mind while I'm working on my own horror writing. It's always hard to find fiction that won't pollute my mind's waters and this sounds like something I'd probably never write--a guy's gritty point of view. Sounds good! Thanks for the recommend. I love those "down and out" characters who are terribly flawed with just the tiniest hint of redemption. I expect this to spur on your own writing about a monster hunter in a novel (hint hint)