Review: Terror Is Our Business
I have a confession to make. I’ve never read any Lansdale before. I know, I know. Withhold the tomatoes. I blame Steve for always taking them when I was a newbie here at EBR. Now I realize what I was missing and will quickly remedy this failing.
Because if you love horror, mysteries, thrillers…. heck, anything well written, you should be reading Lansdale.
In this case, TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERTS’ CASEBOOK OF HORRORS is written by father-daughter team of Joe Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale. They write together well, it felt seamless, and was so fun to read. In this case we get a collection of short stories about our heroine Dana (supernatural super sleuth) and in the final stories we get the PoV of Jana (who’s more sidekick than sleuth). The stories are connected through Dana’s (and eventually Jana’s) retelling of cases to a club that likes to invite speakers. At first members are skeptical, but Dana’s matter-of-fact storytelling compels the listeners to believe her.
It starts with Dana telling the story of strange goings on in a lighthouse that makes the current owner believe it’s haunted. Dana is called in to solve the problem–and she does in her own methodical and clever way. Along for the ride are her assistants Nora and Gary, who must trust in Dana and her abilities–because, ultimately, all of these cases aren’t only dangerous, they can be deadly. Dana explains in her stories how she uses the faith-based items to keep beings from other dimensions from wreaking havoc here. Sure there’s holy water, but there’s also candles made from human fat, blessed powders, ritual verses, salt, graveyard dirt, protective circles, and various instruments of mojo that have power because of the people who believe in them–Dana may not be one of them, but that doesn’t stop her from recognizing their potency. Sure a large part of being successful is research and knowing what you’re fighting, but wits in the face of immanent death is also a large factor.
You’ll get to see demons, revenants, inter-dimensional creatures, and others I don’t want to spoil for you. We get to see a lighthouse, a mansion in Italy, a junkyard in Texas, an underground village, and others. There’s a few minor plot points that I felt were a little contrived, but the storytelling was so fun and the characters so invested that it was hard to care when it’s sufficiently creepy and weird to keep one’s attention. The shorts are all just the right length for the story being told, each moves at a fast clip, never boring, but also never short on the details you need to make the mystery unravel to your satisfaction.
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS is a collection of short stories with Lansdale's signature twisty horror stories and memorable characters.
Dana is the main PoV as the boss lady in charge of her business–which pays pretty well, by the way, and family money doesn’t hurt, either. Her interest started when she was a teenager, in a story you’ll get to read. She’s no nonsense, knowledgeable, fearless, and knows her own worth. Dana can be a little stiff at times, but in the final stories Jana is the perfect foil with her jokes and snarky commentary. Here’s hoping we get to see more of Dana and Jana team up in the future.
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS is so easy to read and so hard to put down. It’s the perfect summer book for yourself and to share with your friends.
- Recommended Age: 13+
- Language: I don't recall any
- Violence: Yes, there's blood and death
- Sex: Referenced