By Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, $19.00, 240 pages

10What are monsters? Are they real or merely expressions of our hopes, fears, and curiosity? Joe Nickell, in his book Tracking the Man-Beasts, explores such questions as he attempts to discover the facts behind the myths and legends. Nickell has been studying the paranormal since 1969 and is now the only full time professional investigator (i.e. Scully and Mulder from X-Files). He has traveled the world in search of the Argentinean Chupacabra, Vermont vampire graves, carnival wonders, and an Austrian werewolf. He takes an unbiased approach to his research and investigations.

Readers will enjoy the photographs and illustrations that accompany the text. Nickell references a variety of sources – religious texts, literature and movies – with the goal of finding concrete evidence as proof of paranormal existence. It is fascinating to note that these same discussions took place thousands of years ago. Nickell cites ancient sources that mention infants with bird beaks or centaurs. Each chapter is short enough to read several in one sitting. References at the end of each chapter offer additional reading and research for interested readers. Learn about sideshow freaks, yetis, mothmen, giants, manimals, mermaids, and other fascinating man-beasts.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin