Beneath the Skin: The Sam Hunter Case Files, by Jonathan Maberry
Sam Hunter is a detective in the great noir style. A former cop who was too rough on citizens he’s now a detective in Philadelphia, a city he likes for its general lack of snow. He is also a werewolf. But Jonathan Maberry, author of dozens of books on horror and other genres, joyfully rewrites werewolf lore as well as new twists on vampires and other horror favorites. Hunter, for example, can change on command with no waiting for a full moon. When he’s not being a werewolf he still has a keen sense of smell and hearing, things it can be nice to have when you’re a detective.
Hunter works his way through some of the staple tropes of noir fiction such as women threatened by ex-husbands, but also takes on more supernatural cases like a woman whose son comes out of his room with bruises and scratches every six days. Sometimes he solves his cases with intelligence and finesse. At other times nothing will do but that he transform himself to kick some bad-guy butt.
The eight stories in the book have a wide variety of bad guys and brings in characters from other books by Maberry just to liven things up. Maberry has won five Bram Stoker awards for his horror books and is listed as one of the top ten writers in the genre.
These noir stories don’t have the full gravitas of a Hammett or a Chander story but they capture the atmosphere and are fun to read. It’s one of those books where I hit the last story and thought “That’s it?” There’s at least one other book with Sam Hunter and I’ll be digging into that and other books from Maberry as soon as I can.