Cover by Rick Stasi
Crazy 8 Press
Paperback & eBook
Nonfiction / Supernatural Humor
206 pages
$16.00 / $6.99 eBook

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$30.00 (Canada shipped)

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Meet Leo Persky

“The first thing you’ve got to know is that while I write like a Terrance Strange, I look like a Leo Persky. Which makes sense since I am Leo Persky. Strange is my penname, as well as a bit of a family legacy. I’m an investigative reporter for World Weekly News, which also makes “strange” my profession. Just like my granddaddy before me (my daddy, between us, was an appliance salesman for Sears). Granddaddy was the first Persky to go, for professional reasons, by Terrance Strange.

“I’m everything you think a Leo Persky would be. A solid 5’ 7”, 142 pounds of average, complete with glasses, too much nose, not enough chin, and a spreading bald spot that I swear isn’t the reason I always wear a hat. Just so you know how cruel genetics can be, Grandpa Jacob, the Terrance Strange I might have been, was ten inches taller and eighty pounds heavier than me, movie star handsome, and a world renown traveler and adventurer. I’m also a traveler and adventurer, but since I’m short, scrawny, and funny looking, nobody knows who the hell I am.

“Even the photo that I use at the top of my column is a 1943 Hollywood publicity shot of my grandfather. It was my editor’s idea to replace my face with someone else’s as he felt my real one ‘would probably repulse even our readers.’”

Leo Persky has survived werewolf squirrels, intoxicated djinnis, seven years of bad luck for breaking a magical Atlantean mirror, giant Peruvian Devil-snakes, and an alien reality TV star and his human baby momma…not to mention his mother’s nagging after the retired septuagenarian monster hunter has to take care of the vampire stalking her at her local Brooklyn supermarket while waiting for her celebrated son to return her calls.

Plus, in the all-new novella “The Devil and Leo Persky,” the intrepid investigator into the unknown learns that a decades’ old deal between Beelzebub and his grandfather has begun to unravel and the tangled threads are threatening to trip him up and land Leo in Hell!

(Paul Kupperberg is the author of more than three dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Same Old Story, JSA: Ragnarok, Direct Comments: Comics Creators in Their Own Words, and Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics, as well as of more than 1,000 short stories and comic book stories. He has also been an editor at DC Comics, WWE Kids’ Magazine, and, of course, Weekly World News.)

Read an excerpt from THE DEVIL AND LEO PERSKY

I guess once a monster hunter, always a monster hunter, because my mother instantly sized up the situation and assumed a defensive posture.

“He’s possessed, Leo!” she shouted.

“No kidding? Why do you think I wanted us to run, crazy lady?” I snapped.

“Twice have ye been summoned, twice has my lord been ignored!” Wallace growled in a voice that belonged to something that had never been human.

I plucked at my mother’s sleeve.

“Let’s go, Mom,” I croaked.

“Shh, Leo,” she hissed.

“You don’t get it. If you don’t run, I can’t either.”

“He’ll only follow us. You can’t run away from a dybbuk. You’ve got to face it head on.”

I started to offer a counterargument, but Mom was already off, launching herself feet first with a savage yell at the charging Wallace like a little old Jewish Bruce Lee in a pant suit.

I think I stood there blinking like an idiot at the sight of Barbara Persky delivering a pretty damn good flying kick to Wallace’s midsection. Possessed by a demon or not, a man has got to breathe, which isn’t helped by taking a good shot to the solar plexus.

Wallace grunted, then grunted again as my mother landed nimbly and executed a neat pirouette, leaning away from him and driving the heel of her left foot into his chin.

“Mom, Jesus!” I shouted. I ran toward her, but she held up a hand to stop me dead in my tracks.

Wallace swayed back and forth a couple of times, then his eyes rolled back in his head and the big man crumbled to the floor, out for the count.

I looked back and forth a few times between my mother, straightening her blouse after the brief tussle, and Wallace, the big demon possessed ex-cop, unconscious on the floor of the Brooklyn Museum’s Middle Eastern wing. I had to keep reminding myself that this was no helpless old lady – hell, I think we’d just proved who the helpless old lady here was – but a trained ex-professional who kept herself in fighting shape.

Mom saw me looking at her in disbelief and laughed. “It’s not quite as impressive as it seems, sweetheart. Wallace once told me he tried boxing when he was a young man but had to give it up because he had a glass jaw.” She looked down at him and frowned. “I hope I didn’t hurt him too much. It’s not his fault he got possessed.”

“Hear me,” Wallace said in the demon’s voice, and I jumped. He was still prone on the floor, out like a light and unmoving except for his lips.

“Twice have ye been called. I am the third and last summons. Respond or face the consequences of Nilshalzratoth’s displeasure.”

Then Wallace shuddered from head to foot, said, “Pluff!” and settled into peaceful unconsciousness.

“Poor Wallace,” Mom said, then in a worried-mom tone, “How badly do they want you, Leo?”

“Pretty bad, I guess. What the hell was Gramps up to that they’re so desperate to have him or a blood heir under their thumb?”

“I hope that’s a rhetorical question because I have no idea.” Mom knelt next to Wallace, checked his pulse, then lifted his eyelids to check his eyes. Satisfied with what she saw, she lightly tapped at his cheek with her fingertips and softly called his name.

“What the hell is so all-of-a-sudden urgent about getting me down there?” I said.

Wallace groaned softly in his own voice.

“Wallace?” Mom said.

His eyes fluttered open, and the ex-cop looked around in confusion.

“What? Oh. Ms. Persky. Where…? How did I get here? I’m supposed to be at the door.”

Mom shot me a glance, then smiled at Wallace as she helped him get unsteadily to his feet. He was confused and got only more so when he touched his jaw where Mom had tagged him and winced.

“You came looking for me, but you slipped and fell before you could say why. You probably hit your chin when you went down.”

“I did?” He looked at the floor around him, as if searching for the leg that had tripped him up.

“You okay, pal?” I asked. “You should probably get some ice on that jaw before it starts to swell up.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he agreed, and waving off my offer to walk him to the nurse’s office, he left us in the empty Egyptian exhibition hall.

“I feel terrible,” Mom tsked at herself. “He’s such a nice man.”

“Don’t think of it as kicking Wallace,” I said. “Think of it as kicking the demon possessing him.”

“A dybbuk, darling, a malicious possessing spirit.”

“I know what a dybbuk is, Mom,” I said, sounding like a whining fourteen-year-old.

“Then use the terms correctly. You’re a professional,” she said, sounding like a mother speaking patiently to her whining fourteen-year-old. “Anyway, not all demons possess, and, not for nothing, but we are dealing with Jewish spirits here.”

“We are?”

“Follow me,” Mom said.

I followed her. She talked.

“Jacob made his first trip to the Middle East in 1915, a few months after the start of the first World War, on assignment from newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to lead an expedition to find the lost Mesopotamian temple of the war goddess Ashurina, in what’s now northern Syria.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Because it doesn’t exist. Jacob made the whole thing up, to get Hearst to bankroll his real mission. He figured Hearst was going to end up with a doozy of a story anyway when he found what he was really looking for, so he convinced himself it wasn’t like he was actually cheating the man.”

I chuckled. “A real rascal, that Jacob,” I said.

“And he found what he was looking for and excavated the site, but just as they were preparing to decamp, they got caught between warring Allied and Ottoman Empire forces, and the ancient compound they’d dug up, and most of the artifacts it held, were destroyed in the fighting.”

“Most of the artifacts?”

Mom stopped in front of one of the well-lit, enclosed glass display stands that held a sampling of what looked like ancient earthen pottery and cookware, each piece paired with an explanatory label. I must have skipped past this case a couple of hundred times growing up, but I had never stopped and actually looked at what it held, much less read the labels.

“This is what survived, what Jacob was able to get out of the country.”

“No kidding? Hearst must have been pissed when all he got in return for his investment was a bunch of ancient salad bowls.”


I read. They were, as I already knew, not ancient salad bowls but ancient Jewish prayer bowls, a protective magic found mostly in Mesopotamia and Syria from the sixth to eighth centuries. Also known as incantation, demon, or devil-trap bowls, they were inscribed with rabbinical quotes and scripture from the Babylonian Talmud, usually in a spiral from the rim of the bowl into the center and were buried upside down to trap whatever the user wished to be protected from, whether it was a particular curse or evil in general. Some were known to have been created to trap specific evil spirits.

“Your grandfather had crated the bowls for shipping back to America still embedded upside down in the soil they were buried in, to avoid unleashing whatever might have been trapped beneath them. But the commander of the German unit that captured the dig smashed the crates, looking for… well, who knows what he was looking for, but he got a lot more than he bargained for.”

“I’ll bet. What did he let loose?”

“Jacob once described it as a roadshow version of Hell, and while those unleashed spirits and demons took care of the Germans, he and most of his expedition escaped.”

Read the rest of the story in
Signed and personalized copies $20.00 (US shipped)
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