- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Airship 27 (May 16, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615645607
- ISBN-13: 978-0615645605
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,159,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker Paperback – May 16, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Hopefully the new volume will answer a few questions. I'll try to ask them without spoiling anything for a first time reader, so if you feel these questions are spoilers, it isn't my intent. In fact you might read the book with added interest trying to see what I'm talking about.
1) Exactly what is the secret of the good Sergeant's rather unique house?
2) Exactly what is up with the Sergeant's enigmatic and efficient housekeeper? (I'd add what I think, but it might spoil something)
3) What is the secret of Sergeant Janus' powerful talisman?
4) Why does the Sergeant insist that his clients write up their own cases?
Looking for more ghostly and ghastly adventure to come!
Quoth the Raven...
I have just finished 'Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker' by Jim Beard. Sgt. Janus is a 'Ghost Hunter' of sorts who appears to live after the second world war. The Sgt's world is one of spirits both malevolent and benign. When a person is being haunted by one such entity they call on the spirit-breaker to aid them.
'Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker' is eight stories that are somewhat intertwined, as the Sgt. aids those in need of his rather unique services. Jim does a good job in creating different voices for his characters as the Sgt. is not the one who narrates his adventures, rather it is his clients. The one that sticks in my mind is the policeman whose writing style was so obviously different from anyone else's in the book, it had the feel of someone else writing the tale.
For me, this was a different kind of read. The heroes I usually read are the two fisted type. But there was none of that here. Sgt. Janus is a man who does his fighting with talismans and small spells. Sort of a poor mans 'Dr. Strange'.
So you may ask "Did you enjoy the book?" The answer is "Yes, immensely." There are actually some very haunting tales within its covers. The final story is one of them as is an earlier story concerning a young woman whose lover has suddenly passed away. There are tales of haunted houses as well as haunted caves, perhaps possessed by something more then merely human shades? Who can say?
I do have one tidbit of advice concerning this tome. DO NOT read it at night before bed, during a seemingly endless rainstorm, or like poor Dorothy St. George, you may be in for one very long, and frightening evening.
This is an Edwardian or Lovecraftian pastiche, yes, but an ingenious and inventive romp full of striking images, subtle horrors, and moments of real shock. In a fresh variation of the single-narrator ghost story formula, Sgt. Janus insists that the client write up a report of the case, a notion which allows Beard to play with the voices of all sorts of vivid characters: a spinster lady, a stolid police officer, a no-nonsense businessman, a bereft lover. Janus himself, initially a Man of Mystery, becomes a more defined personality as the book goes on--more vulnerable and less super-human.
Beard has a keen eye for grimly amusing touches--like a ghost being exorcised by being stuffed into a waste paper basket or a ghoul pulling itself down a chimney and out the fireplace. I particularly liked the images in "The Unbroken Lock", the slowly building menace of "When the Rain Comes" and, most gripping of all (I found myself shrieking at the author that, no, you can't let that happen!) the horror of "The Unfinished Record", which seems to be setting up a sequel. We can only live in hope.
There are many characters in fiction, who are shrouded in mystery, but who inevitably lose that air of otherworldliness as we find out more about them. Jim Beard has been very clever here, in that the only information we ever get on Sgt. Roman Janus, his home and his staff comes from the reports of his varied clients, who may be biased, unreliable, hostile, or fanciful.
Beard is also intentionally vague about the period and settings of these stories. Reading the first one, I was leaning towards them being set in the UK, but later stories suggested an American setting. The period seems to be later than the classic occult detective tales of Carnacki, or John Silence, but not that much later - a generation maybe.
I thought I'd found a mistake when Sgt. Janus is referred to as a para-psychiatrist, rather than a para-psychologist. After giving it some thought, I realised that a psychologist is mainly concerned with research and study, whereas a psychiatrist is concerned with fixing the problem, hence para-psychiatrist is actually the correct term.
I don't really want to describe each story individually. Suffice to say that they are varied in both the voice of the narrator and the details of the hauntings, which provide the focus of the tales. I found I enjoyed each story more than the one previous, although I can't say if this is because they actually get better, or if it was simply because I became more deeply immersed in the strange world of Sgt. Janus as I progressed through the book.
While each story is separate and can be read on its own, they do gradually build upon each other to give the feel of a novel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When there's something strange in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Sgt. Janus! If you enjoy William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki stories, Dr. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Chris
A new era of pulp style literature has arrived with the turn of the century. The new-pulp movement features stories written in the classic pulp style by modern authors. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nick Sauer
I seldom write reviews. Likewise, I seldom read self-published fiction. The former is because I tend to read things that have already been extensively reviewed (plus, hey, rather... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Doug Taylor
What can I say that already hasn't been said of Jim Beard's work, This book is awesome! A very unique book in which the story plays out in a series of personal journal entries from... Read morePublished on April 12, 2014 by Terry James
A very nice book, I am particularly impressed from the easiness of change of tones and registers of the characters in the stories. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by Umberto Pignatelli
I thought this book was great. It kept me reading, not wanting to put it down. I loved the cliffhangers, especially the one at the end. It will keep you waiting for the next book. Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by McKayla
Excellent collection of supernatural tales, that update the traditional character of the ghoist-hunter while remaining true to the classics. Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by SteamDave
This is a really enjoyable book, with a bit of a twist from other, similar works. I enjoyed the different personalities the author creates, the strange house he lives in, and his... Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by J. Stoddard