An Albert Taylor Mystery Double Feature Private Number: A radio station receives a strange call from a caller fr...

Review || Private Number/Claws by Derek Muk

An Albert Taylor Mystery Double Feature

Private Number: A radio station receives a strange call from a caller from beyond the grave, at least that's what's claimed. But is it a hoax, a crank caller, or is the person truly dead? When things get more baffling paranormal investigator, Albert Taylor, steps in to look into matters that harbor a dark and evil secret. 

Claws: A series of brutal and savage animal-like murders rattle the small mining town of Brewster, Nevada, a quiet, little community where such atrocities are unheard of, where everyone knows each other's name, and where you can leave your door unlocked at night...until now that is. Weird animal hairs are discovered at each of the crime scenes. Is it an animal or a sinister creature of myth and lore lurking in the woods? When the body count starts racking up and tension among the townspeople rises, the town turns to paranormal investigator, Albert Taylor, to sort matters and lay his traps for the predator.

 Private Number/Claws is a double feature offering up two stories in one. 

The first story Private Number is the longer of the two filling up about 65% of the double feature. The story begins with a radio DJ on KRRM's show, Paranormal State. When a call comes in from a private number from a caller reporting to be dead, it sets into motion a visit from Albert Taylor, a paranormal expert. 

Private Number starts off with an intriguing premise. I loved the thought of a caller from the other side. Is it a hoax or is she really dead? Why is she calling? What does she want? It's certainly set up for a spooky read. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, it lost my interest. The plot is good, but the pacing felt off. For such a short story, there was a lot going on and I think I just got bogged down in the details. It felt like there were many story lines going on at once but without paying close attention, you could easily miss how they were tied in together. If Private Number were a full novel and more time spent on the details, I think it would make for a more interesting read. 

The second story, Claws, is the shorter of the two, but it's certainly the more action-packed. When a creature starts attacking and killing in a small mining community, Albert Taylor is once again called in to investigate what some believe, is a werewolf making these killings.

Claws did much better on the overall read to me. It was a quick read clocking in at under 30 minutes but it certainly didn't pull any punches as we see an attack in the first few pages. While it's typical werewolf fare, I enjoyed it more than Private Number. While the ending was no surprise, it was still a fun read. If you are a fan of werewolf fiction, I think it's worth your time.

Derek Muk is a writer and social worker from California. His short stories have appeared in various online and small press magazines, including: “The Dead Walk” (anthology), “Fear and Trembling Magazine,” “13 Magazine.” “Diabolic Tales 3” (an anthology of horror), “Both Barrels of Legends of the Monster Hunter I and II” (anthology), “The Trigger Reflex: Legends of the Monster Hunter II” (anthology), “Suffer the Little Children” (anthology), “Splatter: An Anthology of Horror,” “Death Rattle,” “Dark Things II” (Anthology), “Anthology of Ichor: Hearts of Darkness,” “Twisted Tongue Magazine,” “Static Movement,” “Sex and Murder Magazine,” “Sinister Tales,” “Night to Dawn,” “M-Brane SF,” “Sonar4 E-Zine,” “The Ethereal Gazette,” “7th Dimension Magazine,” “Switchblade Magazine,” “ESC! Magazine,” “Scorched Wings Magazine,” “Hardboiled,” “Masque Noir,” “Detective Mystery Stories,” “Dawnsky,” “The Pinehurst Journal,” “Mystery Forum Magazine,” “The Green Queen,” “Kracked Mirror Mysteries,” “Golden Visions Magazine,” “Crossroads Magic,” “The Street Corner Magazine,” “Calliope Magazine,” “Unspoken Water,” “Space and Time Magazine,” “Infernal Ink Magazine,” “Tales of the Talisman Magazine,” “Dark Eclipse,” “Whispers From The Past: Fright and Fear” (anthology), “ParABnormal Digest,” “The Haunted Academy” (Novella-Midnight Frost Books), “Fiction On The Web,” “Bards and Sages Quarterly,” “NeaDNAthal” (anthology), “Aurora Wolf,” “The Horror Zine Magazine,” “Nebula Rift,” “9 Tales,” “Story of the Month Club,” “Cranial Leakage,” “New Realm,” “Ink Stains Anthology,” “Cheapjack Pulp” and “Disturbed Digest.”
He has three chapbooks published: “Three Parts,” “The Sacrifice and Other Stories,” and “Sin after Sin.” In addition to writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, museums, art, dining out, and meeting new people. He has a bachelors and masters degree in social work.
“The Occult Files of Albert Taylor” is his first full length collection of short stories.