This is an unusual UFO book by any standards. It begins with Jonathan Downes drowning his sorrows in whisky and pills, and ends with him going into psychotherapy. In between there is a heady brew of Fort, Keel, Holiday, Crowley and Lovecraft mixed with the authors' own research into unexplained events in Devonshire.
They show that the outside world can be as wild and insane as our own minds; UFOs, mystery animals, MIB, poltergeists, monsters, merfolk and pixies have pranced and paraded all over Devonshire for many a long year.
Wright and Downes's investigations and research are candid and amusing. In 1997 they attended the BBC Radio Devon stand at the Devon County Show and, amongst Spice Girls impersonators and prize bulls, they talked about UFOs and a friend marched around as a grey alien. Another friend, Richard Freeman, claims that his worship of a spider-god caused a plague of these creatures in Yorkshire. And there is plenty more weird stuff to please a saucer full of hippies.
Given the sensational nature of such topics, and the circumstances of their research, lots of useful, intriguing and detailed local reports are compared and contrasted with theories and cases beyond Devonshire. There are a few odd holes in their research, though. For example, they refer to the British 1909 airship scare as being "not satisfactorily dealt with elsewhere". There are quite a few useful articles on this subject, but this only highlights the fact that ufological work has to be continually rediscovered, due to a lack of bibliographic and archive resources. Despite this, the authors put the phantom airship cases they do find into their proper social context and highlight the fact that such phenomena are not seen in isolation.
It is also a surprise to find them demolishing several of the cases they present earlier in the book, and they certainly have no love for the circus surrounding Roswell or the ETH. They do not dismiss the ETH entirely, but they postulate that UFOs and other Fortean phenomena are caused by energy forms that feed off human emotions. They call this Odylic Lifeforce Energy which comes from the Wilhelm Reich school of mystical ufology. Whether such energy vampires exist is an entertaining idea but the authors rightly and artfully cop out by saying their book is "based on personal experience rather than a scientific treatise". A good read anyway. -- Nigel Watson, Magonia [Monthly] Supplement 16, June 1999.