Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Horror at Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft

The Horror at Red Hook
by H.P. Lovecraft

Police officer Thomas Malone is brought in to investigate the mysterious case of Robert Suydam, a reclusive scholar whose demeanor and physical appearance changes suddenly upon his engagement to a wealthy woman. This also happens to coincide with a rash of local kidnappings.

Malone's investigations uncover a mythological cult and a supernatural conspiracy, both of which run deep beneath the surface of the city.

Strangely, the story is not told in first person, and the narrator does not figure into the tale. Which is unfortunate, as first person narration works so well for detective fiction. But in the end, it may not have mattered. A Lovecraft detective story should be a slam dunk--Cthulu meets Sam Spade--but unfortunately this is just a hot mess. Aimless, meandering, and mean-spirited, it comes across like a crazed political manifesto disguised as a horror tale.

This spiritual cousin to Lovecraft's earlier tale "He" takes place in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York, written during the brief period of time that Lovecraft was living in the area. His racism and xenophobia made it an unpleasant experience, as he was surrounded by foreigners on all sides. These negative emotions polluted his work enough already, but his New York tales are even worse, filled to overflowing with evil immigrants--a whole different kind of malevolent alien force.

To quote Lovecraft scholar Peter Cannon, "racism makes a poor premise for a horror story."

1 comment:

  1. Perfect example of one of his minor stories that add nothing to Lovecraft's stature. I read this, and his tales like it, many years ago and have never felt any compunction to reread it.


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