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Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1 | [Justin Gustainis]

Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1

Scranton, the strangest city on earth has 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, 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.”
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Publisher's Summary

Scranton, the strangest city on earth has 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, 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."

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. He is currently a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University. His popular series of urban fantasy novels featuring investigator Quincey Morris include Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman, and the forthcoming Sympathy for the Devil.

©2011 Justin Gustainis (P)2014 Audible Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (155 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
 (46)
3 star
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Overall
3.7 (137 )
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Story
3.6 (134 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (11)
Performance
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  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-29-14
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-29-14 Member Since 2015

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Predictable and Flat"

    I was really hoping to like this. I'm a fan of the paranormal detective/thriller genre. But apart from being superficially 'noirish', this was deeply disappointing. It's gravely lacking in any of the attributes that make the genre engaging. It does nothing creative with any of the various paranormal mythologies. The plot is predictably structured and plods along. But all that would be forgivable if the characters had any depth or humour or a spark of intelligence.

    They don't.

    It was not helped by the clichéd and annoying narration.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Aylett, VA, United States 03-30-14
    Daniel Aylett, VA, United States 03-30-14 Member Since 2010

    I mostly likes me some sword and sorcery, not really in to sifi but theirs a place in my library for anything from John Scalzi.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator Make It Sound Like A Bad Cartoon"
    Would you try another book from Justin Gustainis and/or Peter Brook?

    From the author maybe.
    The narrator no, not even if it was the next Dresden book.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Change narrator, only the main guy and characters with one or two lines had a "normal" voice. All most every one else had an over the top almost slap stick voice. Guys first partner was described as a big guy bit over weight, Brook makes him sound like like that big dumb guy from the old merry melodies cartoons, he was only missing the "duh which way did he go George". (Spoiler warning) Sorry but I was glad when he died in the very beginning of the book so i didn't have to hear to much of it. Others are more annoying others less but over all it really kills the feel of the story.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Peter Brook?

    If I could pick, Michael Kramer or William Dufris. There two of my favorite but both also have a wight range of normal sounding voices to pull from.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Story wasn't bad, could be polished a bit better.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't know who this Peter Brook is but he should narrate children books. That's about the only place I can see those voices fitting in and not killing a story.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Vinita, OK, United States 04-04-14
    Amazon Customer Vinita, OK, United States 04-04-14 Member Since 2012

    I commute about 3 hours a day so I go through ALOT of books! I prefer stories that take me away from reality... what does that say about me

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    Story
    "I tried.. I really did.."
    What disappointed you about Hard Spell?

    The narrator. He is the worst perfomer I have ever heard. His "voices" are ridiculous. It sounded like a stupid cartoon. I was unable to get past chapter 2. And that is a shame because the premise of the story seemed like it might be really good. But I will never listen to this narrator again.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    never finished it. I will be returning it due to the ridiculous performance of the narrator.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    He destroyed it.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    Please! re-record this book with a good performer.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ananda Miami, FL, United States 03-30-14
    Ananda Miami, FL, United States 03-30-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story, not so great narrator"

    I really liked this book. A new voice in urban fantasy with all the requisites! But Peter Brooks pronounces werewolf we'arwolf and coven co-ven. Grr! And a coupleof his voice choices don't jibe with the written characteristics. Like Prescott isn't a 13 year old boy.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl EATON, CO, United States 04-03-14
    Cheryl EATON, CO, United States 04-03-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story - terrible narration!"

    I love the hard-bitten urban cop type of story - and when you throw in a few vampires and witches it's even more fun - but really, the narrator used comic book voices for all but the main character and makes them just sound silly. Whoever produced this one needs to be sent to his room without supper - this should have been stopped before more than a chapter was recorded!
    Would love to continue with the series - but a new narrator would sure help the experience!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claudia Jackson, WY, United States 03-18-14
    Claudia Jackson, WY, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely Awful Narrator"
    Would you try another book from Justin Gustainis and/or Peter Brook?

    A shame that this book book didn't have a decent reader. Narrator voice is far to young and his character voices made it impossible to listen to.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Justin Gustainis again?

    Not with this reader


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    In every imaginable way


    Any additional comments?

    Probably a decent story. A shame that this reader was cast.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 03-24-15
    John 03-24-15 Member Since 2012

    I like books with humor and heroics. I like the good old fashion good guy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"

    The reader try's to do women voice which threw me out the story. The last 20 minutes dragged on. The character were disappointing and made ridiculous decisions. I read a lot paranormal fantasy series but this one I won't continue with


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Harvey Rosalia, Wa United States 06-12-15
    Michael Harvey Rosalia, Wa United States 06-12-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    37
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "annoying all the way around"
    What disappointed you about Hard Spell?

    Narration, I felt I was back in junior high and we were making fun of cops.


    What could Justin Gustainis have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Can Peter Brooks.


    What didn’t you like about Peter Brook’s performance?

    His voices were terrible.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I wasted my time with this. I kept listening hoping it would get better but was sadly disappointed.


    Any additional comments?

    I would like my credit back but won't ask for it back because I listened to the whole miserable thing. Just hoping for that spark of something to revive the main character.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ima B. Reading 06-09-15

    Kanyeezy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really wanted to like this"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The story is mediocre, but could have been made at least entertaining by a decent narrator. As it stands, with Peter Brook, I couldn't even finish the book.


    What didn’t you like about Peter Brook’s performance?

    Peter's pacing, characterization, and overall ability to act are all woefully inadequate to the task of audiobook narration. A half-way decent narrator could have saved this audiobook.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary San Antonio, TX, United States 04-04-15
    mary San Antonio, TX, United States 04-04-15 Member Since 2015

    I was a 'readaholic' for most of my life. I started crochet and other hobbies. That took away from my reading time. I discovered audio books at the library. That set me off. now, that I am older my eyes make it too difficult to read. So I now am a very diligent audio book listener!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too predictable"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I am not sure. The plot is a little too predictable. It just plods along, something happens then plods along. Portions of story could have been cut with out affecting plot.


    If you’ve listened to books by Justin Gustainis before, how does this one compare?

    I have not listened to his books before. The story line seemed intresting.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    No. I will say Peter Brooks did an adequate job. He did seem to get carried away with some character interpretations. These came across as comical in many instances.


    Did Hard Spell inspire you to do anything?

    I did enjoy some of the facts spaced out in book other wise nothing was inspired.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Sue
    1/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A perfect recipe."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Hard Spell to be better than the print version?

    I haven't had the pleasure of the print version - as yet.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I wouldn't be able to settle on a favourite. The whole is so good and better than its parts.


    What about Peter Brook’s performance did you like?

    His ability, within his vocal tones, to be able to "portray" women, nationalities, accents, etc. he also has a wonderful sense of the funny parts but doesn't make his performance feel like someone has just held up a "Laugh" board to the listener.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Oh, most certainly.


    Any additional comments?

    It was simply my ideal mixture, but with added humour for spice. Please keep them coming, Mr Gustianis!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    London, UK
    10/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Refreshing and Funny!"

    A fantastic story, it mixes the the urban fantasy with the crime detective novel and adds comedy. The story line keeps you interested to the end, with all the twists and turns you would expect from a detective story. The author also allows the character to grow on you! Stan reminded me of Harry Dresden but with a real detectives brain and no magic!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Weybridge, United Kingdom
    4/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not as good as Dresden Files or Rivers of London"

    Two problems with this. First is that the story just seems a bit too predictable, even for a crime story pastiche. You can see certain plot points a mile off. Second is the narration - there's some truly over the top accents which seem to be there just to telegraph who's speaking when. Worst offence is a Japanese origin character who "speaks better English than me" being voiced with a chop sockey style.

    I'd stick to Dresden Files or Rivers of London.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • L
    2/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Okay"

    I liked this book, to a point. The story is good and the narrator does an okay job, but there are certain things that just irritated me.

    The author seems obsesses with porn and mentions it incessantly, even when it has absolutely no relevance to the storyline. At times your lucky if he goes more than a few paragraphs without a mention of it.

    My other problem is the narrator. He does an okay job but some of his voices are really annoying and grated on me a little.

    Other than that the book is worth a listen, and I probably would give another in the series a try.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kathryn
    1/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Nasty, small-minded, plodding stuff"
    What was most disappointing about Justin Gustainis’s story?

    If you're looking for something along the lines of Harry Dresden or Felix Castor, don't look here. This book gives you the most worn-out conventions of police procedural combined with supernatural elements that seem present purely to give the 'good guys' something else to be bigoted about. Genuinely nasty.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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