Monster Files, by Nick Redfern (Softcover, 2013)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This is one of several Nick Redfern books I have reviewed. Probably the closest
one in terms of subject matter is The
World's Weirdest Places (which I also reviewed), which came out in 2012.
While this book keeps with the Redfern tradition of looking at arcane facts to
provide an interesting, compelling set of mini-stories, it differs from the
other Redfern works in its tone. His writing is always lively, but in the
first few chapters of this work the text was unnecessarily hyperbolic. I
don't know if he had an editor or assistant who thought this would liven
things up, but I found it annoying. The subject matter is already quite
interesting and Redfern's normal writing style is already engaging.
Aside from that annoyance, this is the usual good read. And as usual, Redfern
proves himself a capable researcher who approaches a subject with an open
mind rather than an agenda. I enjoyed this book, just as I have enjoyed reading his other
books. I just would have enjoyed it more if the first few chapters had matched
his usual style.
In Monster Files, Redfern discusses 27 different accounts of alleged
monsters. These include, of course, Bigfoot and Nessie. But he doesn't just
cover familiar ground, as is obvious when you do the math. There just aren't
27 iconic monster types. So, some alleged monsters you may not have heard
about before. Redfern doesn't rehash what we've already read and call that a
book. He digs up information people are unlikely to have encountered
previously, stitches it all into a sparkling narrative, and has you
wondering what exactly the real story is. That's great entertainment, and
it's educational too.
The subtitle tells us that we're going to see inside government secrets and
classified documents on bizarre creatures and extraordinary animals. We do get
that peek, but this may be promising more than is possible to deliver (depending
on what you read into it).
Today, after surviving through nine years of especially egregious
government assault on our economy and our civil liberties (the last four
having exacerbated these by a few orders of magnitude), many people in the
USA equate (federal) "government" with "evil" and that shows no signs of
abating in the near future.
The lies, stealing, corruption, and lawlessness we've seen over recent
years have not made for a positive reputation among people who have any
semblance of alertness. So maybe drawing attention to the government aspect
is a way to entice potential readers into buying the book in hopes of
reading about even more sleaze, obfuscations, and cover-ups. But that's not
really the government angle the book addresses.
This book consist of 27 chapters, spread across 259 pages. Each chapter
is devoted to a different monster. It's worth noting that not all of these
monsters are of the scary movie sort. Consider, for example, the Acoustic
Kitty. This really isn't a mystery and it's not a monster in the classic
sense. But it is a story in which the word monster aptly applies. Just not
to the kitty itself.
Redfern follows these 27 accounts with a conclusion. Here, he reviews
some highlights of what he's covered and connects some dots to help the
reader see some interesting patterns.
Perhaps the 15-page bibliography is excessive, but IMO it shows just how
far Redfern went to keep this book firmly in the non-fiction category. And
it gives the truly curious reader some great references to explore. The
outsized bibliography is normal for Redfern. I noted earlier that I had also
reviewed (among other Redfern books)
The World's Weirdest Places. It also has a 15-page bibliography. As
noted in that review, this size is on par with the bibliographies of his
Is he just listing sources, regardless of their quality? I doubt that.
Something I've noticed with "non-fiction" authors over the past few years is
many of their works include errors of fact. They often inject their personal
opinions, usually some statist political viewpoint. They venture well
outside their area of expertise. Where they venture into mine, I see the
errors and I realize the author was a sloppy researcher. I have yet to catch
Redfern in such behavior. Considering how many of his books I have read and
how varied the topics are, that amazes me. The guy just won't present
something as fact unless he's verified it as such. Most major news outlets
seem to take the opposite approach!
The book is also indexed, which is helpful for those using it as a
reference text. Given how loaded this book is with facts, that could come in