Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Names In The Black Book: 3 Nightmarish Mysteries by Robert E. Howard

Names In The Black Book
Three Nightmarish Mysteries For Detective Steve Harrison Of The River Street Precinct

Written by Robert E. Howard
Edited by Steve Miller

Steve Harrison was a detective character created by pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, a stalwart of Weird Tales magazine and compatriot of H.P. Lovecraft. Harrison's beat on River Street in some unnamed West Coast metropolis leads him into a number of bizarre cases, three of which are chronicled here.

Names In The Black Book: This opening tale introduces us to the character of Steve Harrison, as he finds himself ensconced in a murder mystery involving a character that has seemingly returned from the dead. Having to protect a woman from this "undead" criminal mastermind, he teams up with a wanted man--perhaps even more dangerous than the villain himself! A good, pulpy story that's a little heavy on the Yellow Menace for my tastes, but those were the times. With murder plots, extreme violence, secret passages and poisons designed to drive you mad, there's plenty here to hold your interest.

People Of The Serpent: In this story (also known as Fangs of Gold), Steve Harrison is trailing a murderer who stole $10,000 from his victim, money that the dead man's daughter is depending on. He never anticipated that he would wind up having to save the murderer's life, but that's exactly what he has to do when he learns that the man has been taken prisoner by a voodoo cult hell-bent on human sacrifice. Slightly on the racist-side at times, this still manages to turn into a damn fine story. I love any weird tale involving voodoo and its variations, and this one is no different. Gators, black magic, and a little light bondage--that's one hell of a read.

Graveyard Rats: The pinnacle of this collection involves Harrison protecting a pair of brothers from a crazed rival, and the twisted legend of the graveyard rats and their insatiable appetites. Definitely the most impressive story out of the three on display here, and one of the best in all of Howard's oeuvre--rivaled only by the infamous Pigeons From Hell.  For more of my thoughts on this excellent story, click HERE.

Overall, a pretty fine collection, edited by published author, fellow blogger and official Writer of Stuff Steve Miller, published by NUELOW games. At just $1.75 from Drive-Thru Horror for the e-book, it's very reasonably priced, so shill out a few coins and support the man. So he can keep on writing. About stuff.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the write-up, Mr. Metro. Howard was certainly the king of casual racism, but I think the power of his writing makes up for that. (Although there were one or two points in "Names in the Black Book" and "The People of the Snake" where I felt obligated to dial that aspect of his writing back a bit, because it was so out of step with modern attitudes. And even the attitudes of many Americans in the 1930s. I'm not the most sensitive when it comes to racist language, so I figure that if something makes me cringe, it would make other peoples' heads explode. :) ["The People of the Snake" was subjected to a particularly heavy editorial hand in places, which is why I changed the title slightly from what it originally appeared under. That's just my way of distinguishing it from the "pure" tale.]


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