The Black Veil & Other Tales Of Supernatural Sleuths
Edited By Mark Valentine
Format :Paperback, 256 pages.
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions, 2008
Ah, the credit crunch, and in the words of Private Fraser “Were a’ doomed” (Dads Army reference there for all the youngsters reading). Wait though, even though you might not be able to afford the latest hardback blockbuster (or other less important items like food) do not despair, Wordsworth editions are here to supplement your reading pleasure with their unfeasibly cheap “Tales Of Mystery & The Supernatural” collection. So pull your wing-back armchair a little closer to the roaring fire, slip on your smoking jacket, light up your pipe and ignore the wind and rain rattling against the windows and instead enjoy some good old fashioned supernatural stories.
The Black Veil & Other Tales Of Supernatural Sleuths (to give it it’s full snappy title) is a collection of supernatural stories with a loose connection to crime and mystery. Now, since I am not a particular fan of Sherlock Holmes and others of that ilk I didn’t particularly relish the prospect of a set of tales in that tradition. Thankfully these tales are all firmly of the supernatural tradition with only a loose affiliation to sleuthdom. What we have are 16 stories ranging from old to modern covering the full gamut of ghostliness. Souls get disturbed, pentacles drawn and revenge taken in a variety of styles. Mostly, however, the stories are in the Victorian ghost story tradition, MR James doesn’t appear but his presence is felt throughout.
Standout stories for me included “The Gateway Of The Monster” by William Hope Hodgson, “The Story of Sevens Hall” by E&H Heron, “The Black Veil” by AF Kidd and “Like Clockwork” by RB Russell. A few of the stories particularly in the middle section were not to my taste but the good greatly outweigh the bad. It’s also worth noting that the last few stories are by modern authors including Mary-Anne Allen, Rosalie Parker and Mark Valentine (who as well as contributing and editing also provides an excellent introduction) so even those with a penchant for the modern are well catered for in this collection. All in all an excellent collection so see you through the current crisis, why invest in dodgy banks, hedge funds and stock markets, instead make an investment in some classic fiction which is guaranteed to pay dividends.
Rating 4 out of 5