With all the sightings of ghosts, goblins, and various other mysterious beasts reported every year since, arguably, the dawn of man, one can’t help but wonder why governments around the world haven’t shown more of an interest in these sightings.
Why hasn’t the government done its own research into werewolf encounters? Why hasn’t the British government gone looking for Nessie? And hey, why hasn’t someone from the FBI ever investigated all these claims of dead Sasquatches?
Well, according to the latest book from anomalous author extraordinaire Nick Redfern, they have.. there’s just a good chance they don’t want you to know about it.
As promised in its lengthy sub-title, Monster Files offers “a look inside government secrets and classified documents on bizarre creatures and extraordinary animals”, but don’t be fooled.. this book isn’t a collection of actual government files (though there are several), but rather a well-researched and entertaining foray into the world of creature conspiracy. It’s a book filled with stories of mysterious beasts pulled not only from the Freedom of Information Act requests, but from anecdotes shared by everyone from military veterans to world-renowned cryptozoologists.
Redfern, who wisely chose a chronological approach to sharing these tales, takes the reader through the last century of government record-keeping on bizarre creatures, from Teddy Roosevelt’s interest in pre-1900’s Bigfoot encounters, all the way up to Australia’s official investigation into “Big Cats” just last year. As a result, you often see the same monster (or region-specific variations of it) pop up several times throughout the book, which only serves to establish that official investigations into strange animals aren’t merely passing fads, but ongoing inquests that aren’t destined to end any time soon.
One of my favorite tales from Monster Files involves a World War II encounter with a werewolf in the forests surrounding the English city of Exeter. After a drunken farmer fires upon what he believes to be a downed Nazi airman, he’s horrified to find that he’s actually injured a humanoid covered head to toe in a thick layer of fur, a beast that was promptly whisked away by uniformed men in an unmarked van. This wonderfully weird tale might not have survived had it not been for Redfern’s cryptozoologist pal Jonathan Downes, who after stumbling upon the story in a pub, did considerable leg work in order to uncover the terrible truth of the wartime werewolf. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say, the truth is stranger than fiction.
The book is filled with stories equally as odd, from the CIA’s battle with giant snakes in Bolivia, Russian tests into animal ESP, and even a highly bizarre (not to mention ingenious) case that involves the U.S. actually creating a demonic monster to influence the tide of battle. While some of these cases might tread some familiar territory for veterans of the paranormal, I was regularly impressed with all the tales I’d never come across before, and even more impressed by Redfern’s ability to approach the ones I had from a refreshing, new angle.
Admittedly, as I read through the book I kept my eye out for other reviews and noticed a few early complaints about some of the facts, but anyone who has ever read a Nick Redfern book is missing the point if they’re going to lodge a complaint about “too much anecdotal evidence”. As I mentioned earlier, Monster Files is not simply a collection a documents (would be quite boring for the casual reader if it was), but rather a carefully curated selection of stories illustrating government interest in the creepy and the cryptozoological. Those seeking the hard facts can always flip to the huge, fifteen page bibliography at the end of the book and do their own research and come to their own conclusions, but I’d rather have Redfern as a guide any day.
On the subject of complaints, however, with Monster Files I have only one: the images. Many of them seemed unnecessary and served to distract from rather than compliment the great stories included. Fortunately, they’re relatively few and far between, and make for a a terribly minor gripe in such a fun book.
I’ve always been a big fan of Nick Redfern’s work, and Monster Files is no different. It’s a highly enjoyable romp through the crazy world of cryptid conspiracy, and a great resource for anyone who’s ever been curious about the government’s take on monsters. I highly recommend it, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself filing some Freedom of Information requests of your own once you’ve finished reading.