Media Monday discussion: Book Blurbs, Do They Hurt or Do They Hinder Sales? Resource media from New York Times Opinion Pages, March 6, 2012.

Stephen GallagherMonsters, both real and metaphorical, figure prominently in every culture since the dawn of time. The sinister serpent in the Garden of Eden brought the downfall of humanity, Grendel devoured mighty warriors in their sleep, and Mr. Hyde swallowed the mild-mannered Dr. Jeckyll, and we mustn’t overlook the impact of vampires and zombies on pop culture. Even Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster have inspired poets and storytellers for centuries. What is it about monsters that titillates our terror? We’ll discuss this on Wednesday, March 28, and then on Friday, March 30, author Stephen Gallagher joins us to discuss his new novel, The Bedlam Detective.

In The Bedlam Detective, Gallagher introduces us to the Victorian-era British department of crazy, officially known as the Visitor in Lunacy, which investigates people of wealth to are suspected of mental incompetency in looking after their estates. Working as a special investigator for the Visitor in Lunacy, former Pinkerton detective Sebastian Becker, is sent to the small town of Arnmouth to investigate Sir Owain Lancaster, the sole survivor of a scientific Amazon expedition in which his wife, son and exploration team were killed. Sir Owain, once a respected member of the Royal Society, is lambasted as a fraud and a madman after his memoir is published with claims that prehistoric beasts killed the party. Becker’s arrival in Arnmouth coincides with the disappearance of two local girls who are later found dead. Complicating Becker’s investigation is Sir Owain’s claim that the beasts followed him across the sea and now roam the moors and are responsible for the deaths of the girls. Mystery and malice create havoc in Arnmouth, while Becker’s personal life is shredded when his wife is attacked by a grief-crazed father at a London children’s hospital. Madmen and monsters spring to life with truly terrible results in this literary mystery.

Stephen Gallagher is a novelist, screenwriter, director, and author of 15 novels published in the UK and US, including The Kingdom of Bones, which first introduced readers to his character Sebastian Becker. He was lead writer on NBC’s Crusoe and worked on scripts for the US version of Eleventh Hour, a series he created for ITV in 2006.  He has won the British Fantasy Award and International Horror Guild Award winner, and a Stoker and World Fantasy Award nominee.