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Archive for September 2nd, 2007

Chris Morgan – Dark Fantasies

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Chris Morgan (ed.) – Dark Fantasies: New Tales Of Psychological And Supernatural Terror (Legend, 1989)

Introduction: No Slime, No Chainsaws – Chris Morgan

Brian Stableford – The Will
Gary Kilworth – Usurper
Stephen Gallagher – Life Line
A. L. Barker – Charley
R. M. Lamming – Candle Lies
Ian Watson – Tales From Weston Willow
David Langford – The Facts In The Case Of Micky Valdon
Freda Warrington – Shine For Me
Christopher Evans – Lifelines
John Brunner – Dropping Ghyll
Tanith Lee – Don’t Get Lost
Nicholas Royle – Archway
Ramsey Campbell – Being An Angel
Chris Morgan – Interesting Times
Lisa Tuttle – Skin Deep
Brian Aldiss – Three Degrees Over

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, when you read the title of Morgan’s introductory essay – No Slime, No Chainsaws – you’ll react with derisive sneers of “snob horror!” Don’t be deterred by the seemingly anti-splatterpunk stance, however, as this is an excellent Brit Horror anthology and, happily, far from free of bloody mayhem.

Brian Stableford – The Will: Helen returns to the sticks for her father’s funeral to be met with the inevitable barrage of veiled threats and abuse from her loathsome family. This turns to sheer hatred when the will is read and she is left “the remainder of my estate.” Why? All is revealed in a spectacularly unpleasant ending.

Gary Kilworth – Usurper: Franz Culper is upstaged by his shadow in everything it does. It is more efficient at his job, steals his friends, makes love to his wife and locks him out of his home. Driven to desperation, Franz decides on desperate measures to finally get one up on the usurper …

Stephen Gallagher – Life Line: Ryan is convinced he’s spoken to his dead fiance, Belinda, on a mysterious chat-line. His phone bill should be astronomical, but the calls haven’t been registered. He determines to discover the whereabouts of those who run the service and, of course, Belinda, a suicide whose “badly decomposed body washed up on a beach in Holland. The effects of the long immersion had been compounded by the attentions of various kinds of marine life and at least one encounter with a boat propeller.”
Scary and brilliant, and about as funny as a tale containing the lines “I’ve learned one thing. Everything you love, you lose. Everything” can be.

David Langford – The Facts In The Case Of Micky Valdon: Avowed skeptic disproves Valdon’s degeneration into “150 pounds of plump, artificially reared maggots”, as “two professional magicians can now duplicate this trick onstage.” Amongst his far from convincing evidence, he cites a former crony of the deceased’s “great merriment at a reminiscence of Valdon once dropping a wet fish down the front of an unpopular barmaid’s dress” to prove the man was nothing but a practical joker.

Ian Watson – Tales From Weston Willow: Three short stories narrated by Mrs. Prestige in “The Wheatsheaf Inn.” The first deals with cross-country runner, Charlie Fox, who sabotages the hunt and pays a heavy price for his sins. In the second story, Paul and Ruth won’t believe the former vicarage is the centre of the universe … until they’re given appalling proof. Finally, three villagers pretend to be deaf, dumb and/ or blind as they attempt to cheat their way to victory in the County inner-village quiz.

Nicholas Royle – Archway : From the day she moves into her North London flat, Bella is haunted by the scornful laughter of an old, grey faced tramp she’s see on the street. She is unfairly dismissed from her job, encounters the red-tape horrors of the DSS and faces eviction. Finally …

Tanith Lee – Don’t Get Lost: Sally and her boyfriend find it impossible to leave a council estate as the streets keep changing. They break into a house and the boyfriend discovers three headless corpses: it’s as if a giant spider has ensnared and then eaten its prey …

Chris Morgan – Interesting Times: Keith blows £95.50 when he answers an advertisement which promises to “let excitement into your life.” shortly afterward, he receives a note acknowledging receipt of his cheque and informing him he’s just been ripped off. He loses his job, wife, home (as do so many characters in Dark Fantasies) and is mugged, hospitalized, and framed for drug possession. There’s only one way to make it stop.

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Richard Dalby – Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 1

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories: Volume 1 (Robinson 1990)



Robert Aickman – The Unsettled Dust
Louisa Baldwin – How He Left the Hotel
Nugent Barker – Whessoe
E.F. Benson – The Shuttered Room
Ambrose Bierce – An Inhabitant of Carcosa
Charles Birkin – Is there Anybody there?
Algenon Blackwood – The Whisperers
L.M. Boston – Curfew
A.M. Burrage – I’m Sure it was No. 31
Ramsay Campbell – The Guide
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Limping Ghost
Wilkie Collins – Mrs Zant and the Ghost
Basil Copper – The House by the Tarn
Ralph A. Cram – In Kropfsberg Keep
Daniel Defoe – The Ghost in all the Rooms
Charles Dickens – The Bagman’s Uncle
Arthur Conan-Doyle – The Bully of Brocas Court
Amelia B. Edwards – In the Confessional
Shamus Frazer – The Tune in Dan’s Cafe
John S. Glasby – Beyond the Bourne
William Hope Hodgson – The Valley of Lost Children
Fergus Hume – The Sand-Walker
Henry James – The Real Right Thing
M.R. James – The Haunted Dolls’ House
Roger Johnson – The Wall-Painting
Rudyard Kipling – They
D.H. Lawrence – The Last Laugh
Margery Lawrence – Robin’s Rath
J. Sheridan Le Fanu – The Dream
R.H. Malden – The Sundial
Richard Marsh – The Fifteenth Man
John Metcalfe – Brenner’s Boy
Edith Nesbit – Uncle Abraham’s Romance
Fitz-James O’Brien – What was It?
Vincent O’Sullivan – The Next Room
Roger Pater – The Footstep of the Aventine
Edgar Allan Poe – William Wilson
Forrest Reid – Courage
Mrs J.H. Riddell – The Last of Squire Ennismore
L.T.C. Rolte – The Garside Fell Disaster
David G. Rowlands – The Tears of St. Agatha
Saki – The Soul of Laploshka
Sapper – The Old Dining-Room
Montague Summers – The Between-Maid
Mark Twain – A Ghost Story
Mark Valentine – The Folly
H. Russell Wakefield – Out of the Wrack I Rise
Karl Edward Wagner – In the Pines
Manly Wade Wellman – Where Angels Fear
Edward Lucas White – The House of the Nightmare
Oscar Wilde – The Canterville Ghost
William J. Wintle – The Spectre Spiders


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Richard Dalby – Dracula’s Brood

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – Dracula’s Brood: Rare Vampire Stories by Friends and Contemporaries of Bram Stoker (Crucible, 1987, Equation, 1989)

Dracula’s Brood crucible

Introduction – Richard Dalby

William Gilbert – The Last Lords of Gardonal
Eliza Lynn Linton – The Fate of Madame Cabanel
Phil Robinson – The Man-Eating Tree
Vasile Alecsandrai – The Vampyre
Anne Crawford – A Mystery of the Campagna
Julian Hawthorne – Ken’s Mystery
Arthur Conan Doyle – The Parasite
Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Good Lady Ducayne
Mary Cholmondeley – Let Loose
Vincent O’Sullivan – Will
H. B. Marriott Watson – The Stone Chamber
Hume Nisbet – The Vampire Maid
Hume Nisbet – The Old Portrait
Vernon Lee – Marsyas in Flanders
Louise J. Strong – An Unscientific Story
Sabine Baring-Gould – A Dead Finger
Horacio Quiroga – The Feather Pillow
Algernon Blackwood – The Singular Death of Morton
Alice & Claude Askew – Aylmer Vance and the Vampire
Ulric Daubeny – The Sumach
M. R. James – Wailing Well
Edward Heron-Allen – Another Squaw?
E. R. Punshon – The Living Stone
Frederick Cowles – Princess Of Darkness

Eliza Lynn Linton – The Fate Of Madame Cabenal: Pievrot, a hamlet in Brittany. Jules Cabanel, father of his housekeeper Adele’s child, returns from Paris with an English bride. Adele welcomes her new mistress with a bouquet of scarlet poppies, belladonna and aconite, and, in concert with Martin Briolic, is soon plotting her rivals downfall. The high rate of infant mortality in the region gives them all the ammunition they need …

Frederick Cowles – Princess Of Darkness: Now we’re in Budapest, and the clutches of the 400 year old Transylvanian Princess Bessenyei, so no prizes for guessing she’s a full on vampire with all the trappings. Wherever she goes, she leaves a trail of dead lovers in her wake until Harry Gorton, an English diplomat, teams up with his occultist friend Istvan Zichy join forces against her. A marvelous pulp romp with a suspenseful climax, and it’s possible you won’t double guess the ending.

E. R. Punshon – The Living Stone: “What could any man do against fifty tons of granite made animate?” Good question, especially when it flings itself upon you with a great leap and gluts on your blood. The professor, researching human sacrifice in Cornwall, stakes out the ‘hunting stone’ in Missing Lane following a series of mysterious disappearances in the locality.

Hume Nisbet – The Old Portrait: Utterly charming Victorian horror. When he scrubs away the “bloated, piggish visage of a landlord” from the canvas, he discovers the masterly portrait of a beautiful woman underneath. Fascinated, he spends Christmas Eve gazing at his find. Come midnight, and the lovely lady comes floating out of the frame..

Hume Nisbet – The Vampire Maid: A reclusive artist takes up residence in a cottage and falls for the attractive invalid Ariadne Brunnell. Her health begins to return.

Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Good Lady Ducayne: Bella lands the position of ladies maid to the ancient, wizened Adelaide Ducayne, and spends the winter touring Italy with her and sinister physician Dr. Parravicini. The old girl’s is soon dramatically improved, although Bella isn’t feeling too clever ….

Edward Heron-Allen – Another Squaw?: Title alludes to Stokers horrible tale of the American tourist, the cat and the Iron Maiden. This one is set at a Marine Biological Station, and relates the events leading to the death of Jennifer Pendeen B.Sc., savaged by an Angler fish.

Mary Cholmondeley – Let Loose: Wet-Waste-On-The-Wold, Yorkshire. When Sir Roger Despard, a man of many vices, lay on his deathbed, he did so denying God and his Angels, declaring that all were damned as he, and that Satan was strangling him to death. Taking a knife, he cut off his hand and swore an oath that, if he were to go down and burn in hell, his hand would roam the earth and throttle others as he was being throttled. Thirty years after his death, a young man persuades an old clergyman to open the crypt …

Horacio Quiroga – The Feather Pillow: Even given the heady standards set by the The Living Stone, The Sumach (an excellent ‘vampire tree’ outing) and Another Squaw?, this one is pretty bizarre. Recently wed, Alicia is wasting away before the eyes of her dominant husband. What could be causing her illness? (Clue: it isn’t a haunted hot-water bottle).

Alice & Claude Askew – Aylmer Vance and the Vampire: Hereditary vampirism in the Scottish Highlands. Paul marries beautiful redhead Jessica MacThane, the last of her clan, who bears a striking resemblance to her ancestress, Zaida the witch, the wife of a murderer. Since Zaida’s day, the legend has persisted of “a pale woman clad in white, flitting about the cottages at night, and where she passed, sickness and death were sure to intervene …”

H. B. Marriott Watson – The Stone Chamber: Utterbourne Village, Devon. Rupert Marvin, an eighteenth century rake and murderer, does his little bit to upset the wedding plans of the besotted Warrington and Marion. You’ll most likely prefer Warrington when he’s demonically possessed by the vampire, boozing, cursing and pawing every woman in sight. Not a patch on the same author’s The Devil On The Marsh, but good fun none-the-less.

Sabine Baring Gould – The Dead Finger: When it comes to leftie-haters, very few could outdo Dennis Wheatley, but the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould certainly gave it his best shot in this 1904 shocker. Who is to blame for the vampiric digit which persecutes our narrator so? As the undead himself explains: whinging paupers!

“Folk once called us Anarchists, Nihilists, Socialists, Levelers, now they call us the Influenza …. we the social failures, the generally discontented, coming up out of our cheap and nasty graves in the form of physical disease.”

I’d so have that engraved on my headstone if only I could afford one!

Dracula’s Brood

see also the Dracula’s Brood thread on the Vault forum

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John Gawsworth – Thrills, Crimes & Mysteries

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

John Gawsworth (ed.) – Thrills, Crimes & Mysteries (Associated Newspapers, n.d., 1935)


Illustrations: Norman Keene

John Gawsworth – Foreword

Frederick Carter – The Skeleton, Gold Like Glass, The Harrying Of The Dead
Sir Ronald Ross – The Vivisector Vivisected
Arthur Machen – The Gift Of Tongues, Torture, Drake’s Drum
M. P. Shiel – The Purchester Instrument, The Flying Cat, The Death-Dance, At The Eleventh Hour, The Place Of Pain
Hubert Crackanthorpe – A Fellside Tragedy
Nugent Barker – The Invalid, The Six, Whessoe
Richard Middleton – The Wrong Turning, The Last Adventure
Richard Middleton & Edgar Jepson – The Cry Of A Century
Charles Duff – The Old Lawyer’s Tale
E. H. Visiak – Rescued, The Legacy
E. H. Visiak & A. Vesselo – “I Am A Murderer”
E. H. W. Meyerstein – A Woman A Dog And A Walnut Tree, The Bath, The Triptych, Statement Of A Scholar, The Pageant, The Rival Poets
Francis Marsden – The Mask, The Captain,
Anthony M. Ludovici – What The East Wind Brought
Eimar O’Duffy – The Mystery Of The Octagon Room, The Glass Panel, Miss Kitten’s Case
Herbert De Hamel – The Mills Of Hell
Stephen Graham – Kitchener At Archangel, A Document: From The Russian, Aha
T. F. Powys – A Suet Pudding
Oswell Blakeston – The Fear From The Lake, The Solution, Superintendent Deering’s Dilemma, Superintendent Deering Puts A Question
Edgar Wallace – The Strangeness Of Joab Lashmere
R. L. Megroz – December, The Disappearance Of George Wake, The Fluke Cannon
Malachi Whitaker – The Flying Pig
Dorothy L. Sayers – A Shot At Goal
Louis Golding – The Haunted Cinema
Thomas Burke – The Funspot Street Affair
John Lindsey – You Wouldn’t Understand
M. R. James – There Was A Man Dwelt By A Churchyard
Simon Dewes – Mr Parsons’ Revenge
Agatha Christie – The Second Gong
L. A. G. Strong – Orpheus
Hugh MacDiarmid – Tam Mackie’s Trial
Mary Francis McHugh – Encounters At Night
Caradoc Evans – The Coffin
G. R. Malloch – The Shopwalker’s Wife
Marcus Magill – Flat To Let
Rhys Davies – The Friendly Creature

A mere 864 pages, but, for me, much harder to digest than the Centuries … because you can’t always spot the boring crime stories … until it’s too late! Hugh Lamb has revived some from the series – by Nugent Barker, Oswell Blakestone and Charles Duff – in his two volume Star Book Of Horror and it’s to be hoped that somebody performs the same service for Frederick Carter’s The Skeleton and Sir Ronald Ross’s The Vivisector Vivisected. E. H. Visiak’s short novel, Medusa, has been credited by Karl E. Wagner as a huge influence on him.
Probably too literary for the more pulp-orientated, these are still nice to have around the place if you can pick them up at a reasonable price, though they’re nowhere near as fun as the Not At Night‘s and Creeps from the same era. You could probably compile a great 25 story horror anthology from the picks of the books.

John Gawsworth (1912-1970) edited at least another six of these “superdreadnought class horror anthologies” (featuring many of the same authors); Strange Assembly (1932), Full Score (1933), New Tales Of Horror (1934), Thrills (aka Crimes, Creeps And Thrills) and Masterpiece Of Thrills (both 1936). Arguably the best known story from the entire series is his collaberation with Edgar Jepson, The Shifting Growth.

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John Gawsworth – Masterpiece Of Thrills

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

John Gawsworth (ed.) – Masterpiece Of Thrills (Daily Express, n.d.)


Dr. M. R. Anand – Kali
Nugent Barker – Death’s Door
Oswell Blakeston – Sluice Gates
Oswell Blakeston – The Grim Case Of Mrs. John
John Brownson – Felo De Se
Roger Burford – The Grey Room
Frederick Carter – Spells By Night
Frederick Carter – Bergamask’s Revenge
Frederick Carter – Fine Hands
Frederick Carter – The Fetch
Frederick Carter – The Mannikin’s Tale
Simon Dewes – Judgement
Ronald Dewsbury – What Happened To Larry?
Charles Duff – A Mysterious Coincidence
R. Dundass – A Man Of Spirit
Lawrence Durrell – The Cherries
Wilfrid Ewart – The Upstairs Room
Wilfrid Ewart – Sprigge
Lewis Grassic Gibbon – A Stele From Atlantis
Lewis Grassic Gibbon – The Woman Of Leadenhall Street
Lewis Grassic Gibbon – First And Last Woman
Herbert Gore – The Dark Wood
Stephen Graham – 5000 Enemy Planes Over London
John Greenidge – “Whither Thou Goest …”
Frances Gregg – The Man Upstairs
Frances Gregg – Charlie
Frances Gregg – Strange Idyll
Neil Harman – Dr. Samson Gregory
Neil Harman – The Superintendent’s Story
Philip Henderson – The Mother
John Lindsey – Melodrama
Anthony M. Ludovici – Mrs. Biggadyke’s ‘Unconscious’
Marcus Magill – The String Game
Frances Marsden – The Secret Chapel
Frances Marsden – The Companion
Frances Marsden – Duty
Frances Marsden – Shillings
E. H. W Meyerstein – Second Sight
E. H. W Meyerstein – The Folkema
E. H. W Meyerstein – The Crossword
E. H. W Meyerstein – Hengo
E. H. W Meyerstein – Death Pages Mr. Startle
Richard Middleton – The Failure
J. Leslie Mitchell – Busman’s Holiday
J. Leslie Mitchell – The Road To Freedom
J. Leslie Mitchell – Lost Tribes
J. Leslie Mitchell & Fytton Armstrong – Kametis And Evelpis
Kenneth Myer – Ghost Of Fleur-De-Lis Court
Eimar O’Duffy – Murder Most Foul
M. P. Shiel & John Gawsworth – Dr. Todor Karadja
M. P. Shiel & John Gawsworth – The Mystery Of The Red Road
M. P. Shiel & John Gawsworth – The Hanging Of Ernest Clark
Simon – The Flying Worm
Simon – Borderlines
Gay Taylor – The Traveller
Hedda Vesely & R. L. Megroz – Red Foam
E. H. Visiak – A Good Reprisal
E. H. Visiak – In The Mangrove Hall
Geoffrey West – The Mist Rider
P. Whitehouse – A Shawl From The East

Undated, uncredited but all sources I’ve seen agree it’s Gawsworth and that it was first published in 1936. Thirty illustrations and a scrimping 735 pages this time.

Kenneth Myer – Ghost Of Fleur-De-Lis Court: Walking toward Fleet Street, petite eighteen-year-old Mary Clifford is accosted by the spectre of notorious torture-murderer Elizabeh Brownrigg. The girl is dragged back to Brownrigg’s dingy room, stripped and severely horsewhipped.

This one would not be out of place in Creeps.

John Lindsay – Melodrama: Michael is Sir Lambert’s understudy for the duration of big hit Night Seed, eager to take his turn in the spotlight but every night without fail the old pro is out there, strutting the boards, “delivering his speeches, causing trouble, making amends, finally being shot by the hero of the piece.” His death-throes are the stuff of legend.
Thelma wants what’s best for her man and hits upon a plan. Suppose she replace the blanks with live ammo?

Marcus Magill – The String Game: Impatient for his rich old Aunt Florence to hurry up and die so he can get his hands on her lovely fortune, conniving Reggie Dougall boobytraps the staircase.

John Brownson – Felo De Se:

“He stirred his tea. There was something hard in the cup: he lifted the thing with his spoon. A cold blue eye broke the steaming surface of the liquid, winked at him and was gone again!”

A philanderer is haunted by the vacant stare of his latest conquest. Memories of the previous night filter back to him as he slumps miserably in a tea room trading insults with a waitress. How he uprooted a ‘No Trespassers’ placard and led her into a field; how they made lust; how he throttled her but surely not enough to kill her? as his mind falls apart he encounters the ghosts of his past and even a senile, half-blind God. He returns home and douses himself in petrol.

Frances Gregg – The Man Upstairs: Her partner Jan has been acting oddly of late, staying out nights, never telling her where he’s been. And then there’s the man upstairs: she’s only seen him once but, inexplicably, has lived in mortal fear of him ever since. This morning Tom arrives home with blood on his shirt, claiming to have spent the night sleeping rough after getting drunk and having his bicycle stolen. A young girl has been mutilated on the common. The police arrive.

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John Gawsworth – Crimes, Creeps & Thrills

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

John Gawsworth (ed.) – Crimes, Creeps & Thrills (Eric Grant, n.d.)

E. H. Visiak – The Shadow
Philip Lindsey – Hunger
R. Edison Page – The Eyes Of Obi
E. H. Visiak & John Gawsworth – The Uncharted Islands
Kenneth Hare – The Woman With The Bundle
A. L. Davis – The Skull
John Rowland – The Rattlesnake
John St. Clair Muriel – Chinese Mask
R. Edison Page – The Ninth Year
Simon Dewes – Sacrifice
Henry Yalden – Broken
Richard Middleton – The Hand
M. P. Shiel & Fytton Armstrong – The Falls Scandal
Richard Middleton – Eccentric Lady Tullswater
H. H. Ewers – The Execution Of Damiens
Richard Middleton & G. Dundas – Murray’s Child
E. H. W Meyerstein – The Cat-Lovers
R. Edison Page – The Tube Of Radium
Frederick Carter – Coincidence
Edgar Jepson – The Women Avenge
G. R. Malloch – High Politics
Frances Marsden – The Signet Ring
Oswell Blakeston – – The House Opposite
Eimar O’Duffy – My Friend Trenchard
E. H. W Meyerstein – Boxbug Paints His Kitchen
John Lindsey – On Lighthouse Rock
Edgar Jepson – Secret Service Work!
Mary Francis McHugh – Gilmartin
John St. Clair Muriel – Decision
Simon – Death For The Gander
Edgar Jepson – The Case Of The Absconding Financier
E. H. W Meyerstein – Really Was A Bluetit
Nora C. James – Helping Mummy
R. Edison Page & Kenneth Jay – The Jingling Telephone
E. H. Visiak – Carson
Mary Francis McHugh – The Ride
E. H. W Meyerstein – A Whistling Woman And A Crowing Hen
hamish MacLaren – Summer Harvest
Philip Henderson – Cruelty in Sunlight
Edgar Jepson – The Lost Meadow
Simon – The Disappearance
M. P. Shiel & Fytton Armstrong – The ‘Master’
Nugent Barker – The Announcement
Frederick Carter – The Fakir Of Teheran
Edgar Jepson & John Gawsworth – The Shifting Growth

Biographical notes

 Boring plain red cover on my copy so no point my scanning it.

The subtitle, “Forty-Five New Stories Of Detection, Horror And Adventure” forewarns you that it’s not going to be quiet as gruesome a ride as the best of the Not At Night‘s or Creeps. Some of these are super-short, two to three pages, and in certain cases, you know what’s going to happen within a few sentences. Another difference with the above named anthologies: on the strength of the dozen I’ve read at least, there’s less fascination with the “supernatural” than there is murder and suicide. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun …

Norah C. James – Helping Mummy: Poor Mrs. Rodgers. Her husband has died and now she’s taking the long boat journey home from the Philippines. Little Tommy and Ruth mean well, but that screaming baby is getting on everybody’s nerves and how are they to know she’s being flippant when she warns him that, if he doesn’t stop wailing, she’ll throw him out of the porthole ….

Edgar Jepson & John Gawsworth – The Shifting Growth:“Uncompressed, it looked as if it would have filled a drainpipe, and split the colon of an ox.”

Euw. The charming story of swimming champion Sylvia Bard, her perplexed surgeon lover and the nasty something she swallowed. Probably the most reprinted of the Thrills stories.

Simon – Death For The Gander: Mr. Carson thinks his daughter Marie is pulling a fast one when she insists they mustn’t move to the reputedly haunted house in Bloomsbury as she’s had a premonition. He threatens her with a good thrashing if there’s any more talk of this infernal spectral policeman peering through the window.

Richard Middleton – The Hand: A life-shattering experience for fanatical ornithologist Lord Scaife begins when he watches a young woman pass in the street below, her bonnet decorated with the rare tail-feather he thinks has been stolen from his collection. He tails her to a house in a part of London “which he had heard of but had not previously believed in.” There he encounters a feisty youth who mistakes him for a debt collector and locks him in a dark room with a severed hand for company.
All is explained at the end. Not really what I’d call horrific, but well told and Scaife’s mischievous sister Lady Arabella is the most likable character in the book thus far.

Simon Dewes – Sacrifice: Kaloun, a hunchback with the squeaky voice, has somehow convinced himself that he has a chance with the lovely Amima. His friend Anton, who has the reputation of being something of a Lothario, finally rids him of his delusions when he proposes to the girl and she readily accepts. Kaloun plans to kill Anton the next time they’re working the crocodile-infested river.

E. H. Visiak – Carson: A bullied youth finally turns on the younger kids who torment him. The shame of it all ruins his life.

Simon – The Disappearance: Inspector Deering mystery. This time the porky super is assisted in cracking the case of a fence who seemingly vanishes from a house under surveillance. Something to do with an old cretin who is transformed into a dashing young gent. It’s all in the thyroid gland, you know.

E. H. W Meyerstein – Boxbug Paints His Kitchen: A vindictive old despot who has “a habit of getting rid of things” finally sees the error of his ways when he encounters another of those plucky poor children who put in so many appearances in this book. He returns home and redecorates his room a ghastly shade of crimson …

Nugent Barker – The Announcement: John Warrington-Coombe spends the stifling hot afternoon in the public library. He’s a man of eclectic tastes judging by the several books he admiringly browses. His next stop is the police station to hand himself in …

E. H. W Meyerstein – The Cat-Lovers: Mr. Justice Grist and fellow henpecked Judge Leanjer bemoan the good old days when they could dole out twenty strokes of the cat-o’-nine-tails to juvenile delinquents. Nowadays, everybody’s too namby-pamby to allow the old perves to indulge their pleasure so often, but eventually Round and Bollow come before them. It was better for Grist and Leanjer that they hadn’t.

A. L. Davis – The Skull: Dr. McIver loans his artist friend James Ewen the skull of Old Maggie, recently hanged at the crossroads for murder. McIver and the medical students – body-snatchers to a man – liberated her corpse for their dissecting rooms but, forced to flee from an angry mob of villagers, they bodged the job and decapitated her in their haste to get away. McIver warns his friend that the skull resents being shut up in box or cupboard but if somebody tells you something like that, what are you going to do?

Kenneth Hare – Woman With A Bundle: Up there with Helping Mummy and The Skull as my favourites so far. The Nags Head is something of a hotbed of simmering sexual tensions. Landlady Mrs. Bates detests her husband for his inability to provide her with a baby, while barman Blowin is trying to get his end away with the not altogether discouraging barmaid Mary who can more than match his saucy innuendos. One day an old woman comes in and, after getting on the wrong side of Mrs. Bates by mentioning babies, departs having left behind her bundle. She doesn’t come back and finally the landlady inspects the lost property ….

John Rowland – The Rattlesnake: Johnson is captured and staked out by the Apaches with a tethered rattler for company. When it rains, the rawhide will expand and the snake will eventually reach him. Storm clouds hover overhead …

Hamish Maclaren – Summer Harvest: The old soldier sits at the bar selling fresh cherries to strangers and regaling them with tales of his experiences during the war in South Africa. Finally, the innkeeper has had enough and exposes him as a fraud who’s never set foot outside of Hillingdon. The old boy takes it badly and the Cherry tree is put to a different use.

Mary Frances McHugh – Gilmartin: Another suicide saga, this time concerning an Irish journalist drummed out of Fleet Street and fallen on hard times. He rages at the world – especially his countrymen – until he finally ends it all in the bogs at Euston Station. Like Summer Harvest, it’s well enough written but there are already enough of these predictable tragedies for one volume.

Edgar Jepson – The Women Avenge: Dear old Dennis Wheatley must have loved this one!

World War I. Lady Mosenheim, Clarissa Leggatt, Lady Northwold and her stocky Welsh servant, have each lost sons or lovers during the conflict. Good Tory’s all, they put the blame squarely at the feet of eighty ‘traitors’ – otherwise known as “The Labour Government” – including disgraced MP Blagden and an unnamed person at the very top. As men are too spineless to kill these wretched Socialists, the women will have to do it themselves.

Blagden, they decide, will be the first to be put on trial – not that he can influence the verdict as the eighty have already been found guilty and will be hung or otherwise executed for their crimes.

Lady Northwold invites him to River Court for the weekend …

Eimar O’Duffy – My Friend Trenchard: The narrator, Stapleton, has known Percy Trenchard from when they were at Wadminster School. He was always a headstrong, difficult fellow, seemingly incapable of tact, but after the great war he becomes odder than ever. When Stapleton goes to stay with him at his Sussex home, he finds that Trenchard has taken a wife – a woman ever on the verge of hysteria – and built a huge wall at the bottom of his garden. Trenchard’s recent expedition to Sumatra provides a clue to the horror that holds them in thrall.

Very well written but, to be honest, the revelation isn’t as scary as it should be and this one really stood out for me due to some Wheatleyesque Labour bashing (see also The Women Avenge). ” … I began to know what hunger was. My clothes became shabby, my boots wore out … I know lots of men in my situation – some of them even public-school men – became infected with Socialism and other seditious ideas. But I knew that wasn’t the game. Thanks to the training of the old school, I kept a stiff upper lip and determined to play with a straight bat.”

As is the case with The Women Avenge, the author gives no indication that this is intended as satire.

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Cynthia Asquith – The Black Cap

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Cynthia Asquith (ed.) – The Black Cap: New Stories Of Murder & Mystery (Hutchinson, 1927)


J. M. Barrie – Shall We Join The Ladies?
L. P. Hartley – The Killing Bottle
Mrs. Belloc Lowdnes – An Unrecorded Instance
Barry Pain – A Considerable Murder
Hugh Walpole – The Tarn
Arthur Machen – The Islington Mystery
Edgar Wallace – Circumstantial Evidence
W. B. Maxwell – The Prince
Oliver Onions – The Smile Of Karen
D. H. Lawrence – The Lovely Lady
Shane Leslie – The Hospital Nurse
Elizabeth Bowen – Telling
W. Somerset Maugham – Footprints In The Jungle
Lady Cynthia Asquith – The Lovely Voice

Elizabeth Bowen – Telling: Downtrodden Terry always suspected that he must be capable of achieving something in his life and stabbing Jacqueline to death behind the chapel during a party probably qualifies. When it comes to confessing his deed to his family, however, it’s still the same old case of nobody listening to a word he says. As much a crime story as horror with Terry very much in the tradition of the blazer and flannels psycho popularised by L. P. Hartley.

Hugh Walpole – The Tarn: Ullswater. Fenwick despises Foster. He always makes a success of things while Fenwick flounders in his wake. A clear the air meeting – instigated by Foster who doesn’t like to upset anybody – gives Fenwick to do what he’s always wanted – murder that simpering, obscenely nice, non-swimming bastard by pushing him in the tarn, that fathomless lake at the back of his house. But the icy water that acted as his accomplice in ridding him of his enemy now comes hunting the murderer.

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Cynthia Asquith – When Churchyards Yawn

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Cynthia Asquith (ed.) – When Churchyards Yawn (Hutchinson, 1931, Arrow, 1963)


Elizabeth Bowen – The Apple Tree
Hugh Walpole – A Little Ghost
L. P. Hartley – The Cotillion
Ann Bridge – The Buick Saloon
Algernon Blackwood – A Threefold Cord …
Arthur Machen – Opening The Door
Shane Leslie – As In A Glass Dimly
W. S. Morrison – The Horns Of The Bull
William Gerhari – The Man Who Came Back
Mrs. Belloc Lowndes – The Unbolted Door
Oliver Onions – “John Gladwin Says”
Philip MacDonald – Our Feathered Friends
Cynthia Asquith – “God Grante That She Lye Stille”

Elizabeth Bowen – The Apple Tree: Nineteen year old Myra is finding married life difficult to cope with, not through any fault of her husband, Squire Simon who dotes on her, but on account of the tragedy which befell her as a child. Brought up in a West Country orphanage, she and Doria were thrown together through their unpopularity with the other girls. When Myra was gradually accepted into the group, Doria took it badly and hung herself from the apple tree in the yard. It was Myra who discovered the swinging corpse and the Crampton Park School affair was a seven day wonder in the newspapers. Since then, Myra has been haunted by Doria, apple tree and all, neither of whom are shy of revealing themselves in Mr. Simon’s presence either. The drain on the otherwise loving couple’s health is taking its toll. Time for interfering busybody the indomitable Mrs. Bettersley to intervene on their behalf.

Lady Cynthia Asquith – God Grante That She Lye Stille: Mosstone Village. Margaret Clewer, the youthful owner of the manor house is a charming if elusive young lady with a heart condition and “a very considerable degree of anaemia” according to the diagnosis of the narrator, Dr. Stone, with whom she has fallen in love. Margaret herself complains “I don’t feel any sense of being a separate, continuous entity … I can’t find any essential core of personality – nothing that is equally there when I’m alone, with you, or with other people. There’s no real continuity, I’m hopelessly fluid!” Stone realises too late that his patient’s ailment has a supernatural basis as her ancestress, the sixteenth century Elspeth Clewer, is gradually taking possession, causing the sweet natured girl to tear the heads off her beloved pet birds and launch a vicious attack on the nurse. Can Stone prevent the love of his life being obliterated by the vampiric Elspeth?

William Gerhardi – The Man Who Came Back: Gentle ghost story of a dying old timer who can’t bear to think of being separated from his library and imagines the afterlife as an inexhaustible supply of great books and time enough to read them.

W. S. Morrison – The Horns Of The Bull: “But sons, if either of you leaves his island for the blood of the other, my curse will strike him … and his brother will triumph over him” – so says the dying elder of the Isle of the Lamb. The two sons, Orm and Iain, have loathed each other all their lives so their father leaves Orm the Isle of the Lamb and Iain the neighbouring Isle of the Bull to prevent them killing each other the minute he’s dead. Orm, the more war-like and devious of the pair, rules his people with black magic and terror while his brother lives as a hermit. You have probably already deduced who is responsible for triggering the final conflict and who prevails in a story that has more to do with folklore than terror.

Mrs. Belloc Lowdnes – The Unbolted Door: Mr. Jack Torquil refuses to accept that his son John, euphemistically reported “missing” in conflict toward the close of WW1 is dead. It’s possible that the Germans took him prisoner or he may have been committed to a mental hospital so the door has stayed unlatched for years awaiting his happy return. His wife Anne detests her husband his delusion, his inability to the truth and their once happy marriage has been dead since the day that curt telegram arrived. Now, on the anniversary of the Armistice, the handle of the unbolted door turns in the darkness ….

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Lady Cynthia Asquith – The Ghost Book

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Lady Cynthia Asquith (ed) – The Ghost Book (Hutchinson, 1926)


May Sinclair – The Villa Desiree
Algernon Blackwood – Chemical
Mrs. Belloc Lowndes – The Duenna
L. P. Hartley – A Visitor From Down Under
Denis Mackail – The Lost Tragedy
Clemence Dane – Spinsters’ Rest
Hugh Walpole – Mrs. Lunt
Arthur Machen – Munitions Of War
D. H. Lawrence – The Rocking-Horse Winner
Walter De La Mare – “A Recluse”
C. L. Ray (Cynthia Asquith) – The Corner Shop
Oliver Onions – Two Trifles: The Ether Hogs: The Mortal
Charles Whibley – Twelve O’Clock
Enid Bagnold – The Amorous Ghost
Mary Webb – Mr. Tallent’s Ghost
Desmond MacCarthy – Pargiton And Harby

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Montague Summers – The Supernatural Omnibus

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Montague Summers (ed.) – The Supernatural Omnibus, (Gollancz,1931) (Penguin, 1976, 1984)

Supernatural Omnibus

Introduction – Montague Summers

J. S. Le Fanu – Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand
J. S. Le Fanu – An Account of Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street
Edith Nesbit – Man-Size in Marble
Bram Stoker – The Judge’s House
Percival Landon – Thurnley Abbey
E. & H. Heron – The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith
Amelia B. Edwards – The Phantom Coach
Amyas Northcote – Brickett Bottom
M. E. Braddon – The Cold Embrace
Amelia B. Edwards – How the Third Floor Knew the Potteries
Rosa Mulholland – Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time
Charles Dickens – To Be Taken With a Grain of Salt
Charles Dickens – The Signal-Man
Charles Collins – The Compensation House
Amelia B. Edwards – The Engineer
Vincent O’Sullivan – When I Was Dead
E. & H. Heron – The Story of Yand Manor House
Vincent O’Sullivan – The Business of Madame Jahn
Vernon Lee – Amour Dure
Vernon Lee – Oke of Okehurst
M. E. Braddon – Eveline’s Visitant
E. Nesbit – John Charrington’s Wedding
Roger Pater – De Profundis
Wilkie Collins – The Dream Woman
R. H. Barham – Singular Passage in the Life of the Late Henry Harris, Doctor in Divinity
Jasper John – The Spirit of Stonehenge
Jasper John – The Seeker of Souls
Roger Pater – The Astrologer’s Legacy
Amelia B. Edwards – My Brother’s Ghost Story
J. S. Le Fanu – Sir Dominick’s Bargain
Vincent O’Sullivan – The Bargain of Rupert Orange
J. S. Le Fanu – Carmilla
Frederick Marryat – The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains
Roger Pater – A Porta Inferi
R. H. Barham – Jerry Jarvis’s Wig
John Guinan – The Watcher of the Dead
E. & H. Heron – The Story of Konnor Old House
W. B. Seabrook – Toussel’s Pale Bride

Strong contender for the best anthology of it’s kind with the finest introductory essay we hapless aficionado’s of ghost and horror stories are ever likely to see. Summers may have been pretty gaga when it came to his vampires and werewolves, but he certainly knew how to put an enduring collection together.

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