Terror is Our Business:
Dana Roberts Casebook of Horrors
by Joe R. Lansdale & Kasey Landsale
May 29, 2018
Cutting Block Books
Thank you Lauren Roberts at Smith Publicity for sending me an advanced reader’s edition in exchange for an honest review!
First of all, I love the dedication:
“For Mom: You were right about everything.”
For lovers of American Horror Story, Terror is Our Business is a collection of short stories written by a father-daughter duo: Joe and Kasey Lansdale. The stories follow the heroine of supernatural investigators, Dana Roberts. The setting is a club which members come monthly to chat and have snacks. Dana Roberts is invited to the club to speak, maybe tell one of her famous ghost stories. Her story is moving and believable; she is invited to come back.
Each time Roberts returns to tell a story, readers transport to her investigation and discover terrifying interdimensional beings and circumstances.
“I believe they are less spirits of the dead, than they are dimensional worlds that slip into ours” (Lansdale 51).
In the fifth story, readers are introduced to a new character: Jana. With a spooky and inexpiable experience in her past, she shows up to one of Robert’s talks out of curiosity. Jana explains to Roberts what happened, and it just so happens that she is in need for a new assistant for an upcoming job. Dana and Jana quickly team up to be a ghost-hunting dynamic duo, and a work together for the remainder of the compilation.
“I love that Dana and Jana are powerhouse supernatural investigators, yet gender plays zero factor in the meat of these stories.”
The stories are as follows:
- The Case of the Lighthouse Shambler
- A supernatural being haunts an old lighthouse.
- The Case of the Stalking Shadow
- In a childhood game of hide-and-seek, two cousins are spooked by a shadow and return to the estate years later to find out what exactly they saw.
- The Case of the Four Acre Hunt
- Dana’s friends just built a beautiful estate, but are constantly spooked by the floorboard creeks and eerie air about the place. One morning, they discover that all of the guest room furniture had been rearranged. Is it a case of sleepwalking or something more?
- The Case of the Angry Traveler
- This story is not only about an interdementional being, but one from another planet who haunts New York City’s sewer system.
- Blind Love
- Blind Love introduces a new character, Jana, who experiences speed-dating gone horribly wrong. She is now a believer and seeks out Dana Roberts. The two women team up and develop a humorous dynamic and unstoppable expertise.
- The Case of the Bleeding Wall
- A man built a beautiful villa in Rome for his fiancé, but she was too spooked to stay at the house. Now, renters are rapidly fleeing and the owner needs the help of the newly formed duo, Dana and Jana.
- The Case of the Ragman’s Anguish
- In a rural Texan town, a series of inexplicable murders with a tie to a shadow covered in colorful rags brings Dana and Jana to the rescue.
I am typically not a fan of the horror genre, but these short stories were a fun, spooky incorporation to my nightly reading. A quick ghost story before bed can be quite thrilling. The editing needs some work, but I will let that slide because this was an advanced reading copy and not a final publication.
One particular typo that irked me was the misspelling of the Boston Red Sox (spelled Red Socks in the book)…. as a Boston sports fan, this is an abomination!! I hope this is fixed before this book goes to print, or I fear many will have the urge to chuck the book across the room when stumbling upon the typo as I did.
Do I believe in ghosts? There is a tingling remembrance from my childhood that remains uncertain. During a family vacation in Bermuda, we visited the Royal Navy Dockyard. We explored the old fort and learned about its role in The War of 1812, slave trade, and other parts of history.
We visited the Commissioner’s House which was the first cast iron house in the world and built in 1820. There is an enormous grand staircase which my mother and I ascended. It was not tourist season, so we explored the mansion alone and she let me run through the halls with glee. I came to an abrupt stop when I saw a shadow of a large woman in a polka dot dress. I asked my mother if she had seen her too. She went pale. My mother continues to tell the story of the woman in the polka dot dress whenever anyone brings up the presence of ghosts.