Review: Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors

Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors is a collection of short stories that follow the investigations of supernormal investigator Dana Roberts. The first stories in the collection were written by Joe R. Lansdale and use an external narrator to frame the stories. It’s a simple but effective technique that draws the reader right in to the narrative.

One of the things I appreciated right off the bat is that Dana Roberts is something of a skeptic. She doesn’t consider her work to involve the supernatural; she is firm in her use of the term supernormal because she maintains that what is happening is just something we can’t explain yet. She strives for a more scientific and logical view of her investigations. In that respect she’s more Scully than Mulder and one of the reasons this is very effective is that when she is scared the reader has the sense that things are very bad. She isn’t reckless but she’s always prepared for a very normal explanation to reports of possible supernormal events. I think my own healthy skepticism about ghosts and such is part of the reason I immediately clicked with this approach to the stories and I imagine that a wide range of readers will find these stories immeasurably entertaining, even if they aren’t die-hard horror fans.

In spite of her insistence that most of her cases turn out to be bats or mice living inside the walls, Dana has some incredible experiences she does share with us. Each story contains its own surprise in the discovery of the culprit and the resolution of the problem.

Lansdale suggested that readers enjoy one story at a time and I employed that approach while reading this collection. I was thoroughly immersed in Dana Roberts’ world and the rhythm of Lansdale’s stories when Kasey Lansdale introduced us to Jana.

I had been wondering how such a great collection of stories would be impacted by the introduction of a co-author and sidekick for our protagonist.

In Dana Roberts and her adventures, Joe R. Lansdale gives us storytelling greatness. When Dana and Joe join forces with Jana and Kasey great stories become supergreat tales that provide a whole new level of entertainment for the reader.

Formal, proper, logical, rational… these are all terms I could use to describe Dana Roberts and all are meant as compliments. By contrast Jana is irreverent, impulsive and often inappropriate. She thinks all those things that you dare not say, only sometimes her thoughts slip out before she reins them in. She’s the spice Dana Roberts didn’t know she needed in her life.

She’s the spice I didn’t know I needed, but when I started reading Blind Love I looked up at my husband and said, “Oh hell, yeah.” And then I kicked him out of the room so that I wouldn’t be disturbed.

I have a feeling that as a reader I’m about to suffer a long period of withdrawal while waiting for more Dana and Jana stories to keep me awake at night.