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Author Topic: The Occult Files of Albert Taylor by Derek Muk  (Read 2319 times)
Geoff_N
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« on: February 17, 2010, 08:43:04 AM »

The Occult Files of Albert Taylor: A Collection of Mysterious Cases from the World of the Supernatural
Author: Derek Muk
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 144954195X
ISBN-13: 978-1449541958

This is an anthology of eleven stories of the occult ranging through ghostly apparitions, Jack the Ripper visiting the present in San Francisco, to UFO landings. They are written through the perspective of a professor of the occult, Albert Taylor – a single mature teacher with an open mind to whatever oddities his students and friends engage with him. In many ways this is a travel book – one of the best features of the stories are the interesting locations from desert towns to mountain caves. It is also a broad sweep of the major issues you’d hope and expect to find in an occult collection: Big Foot, Boogey Man, The Spanish Inquisition, séances and unsettled souls in purgatory.

The format is interesting in that although they are as narrated tales, they are also case studies from the prof’s files. As an academic I would have expected him to be less accepting of what he and others see and hear. The kindly Taylor rarely uses any scientific rigour such as multiple repeat experiments in controlled situations, checking equipment calibration, and ruthless cross-examination of witnesses. Nevertheless, I fell into liking his manner of accepting accounts of people who had been scared witless: he put them at their ease and gave them credence where I would have asked for tests for hallucinogens and illusory tricks.

Some of the stories seemed simplistic though I might have missed hidden meanings. A good one is The Exhibit, which features the fifteenth century Spanish inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada. Some relics of his are collected for a museum exhibit in a desert town, and the torturer becomes resurrected. I would have had him use his famous torture methods on the hapless citizens (maybe not to sort Jews from Catholics as was his career mapped out by Queen Isabella) but there I go re-writing again.
Jack the Ripper aficionados will enjoy his reappearance in a San Francisco Bay version in the short story, Dear Boss though it was a scalpel too far-fetched for me.
Producers take note: most of the case studies in this collection would make a popular TV series, say – Most Haunted meets The Twilight Zone.
Collectors of stories of the occult will find something in this anthology to appeal to them.
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LeeThompson
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2010, 09:30:43 AM »

Great review, Geoff! Sounds like an interesting collection.  cool
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