Werewolves howl. Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now! So let’s settle down with something on the spooky side of crime fiction. Here’s the first of this week’s special selection of chilling thrillers, exploring the mysterious hinterland between hardboiled noir and the beasts which prowl in the far beyond…
Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
Let’s kick off with a genre classic. This hardboiled missing-persons investigation turns increasingly bloody as scuzzy gumshoe Harry Angel gets embroiled in an occult conspiracy of voodoo, black magic, murder – and worse, as he faces the ultimate adversary. If this sounds familiar then you may well have seen the film it inspired, but the original novel tells a somewhat different tale to Angel Heart. Get set for a story which starts in Hammett and Chandler territory, then takes a dramatic side-turn into the strange…
Supernatural Sherlocks by Nick Rennison
This new anthology pulls together 15 splendid stories from the golden age of the occult detective, at the very end of the 19th century and in the opening decades of the 20th. It includes adventures penned by famous names such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and HP Lovecraft, in which the finest minds of their time investigate the strange phenomena which emanate from beyond the grave. Old-fashioned storytelling reveals malignant and mysterious forces; ghosts, ghouls and uncanny happenings!
House Of Spines by Michael J Malone
Take a psychological novel of suspense centred on an isolated protagonist, a struggling writer with a traumatic personal history. Mix in a modern gothic interpretation of the traditional haunted house mystery. Spice it up with sensual visitations from a seductive spectre with more than a hint of the succubus about her. Add a dead body and scandal in the family history.
Prone to manic episodes, Ranald McGhie already has a shaky grip on reality. Is he losing his grip? Has he inherited the insanity which destroyed his parents? Or is there something truly supernatural happening in the grand old mansion full of books which he inherited under such strange circumstances?
The Golem of Hollywood by Jesse and Jonathan Kellerman
Readers familiar with Kellerman Senior’s Alex Delaware novels will find this a very different proposition – an international odyssey which takes burned-out Los Angeles detective Jacob across 21st century America and back to old Europe, deep into the legend of the golem of Prague… a legend of an ancient monster, bent on retribution.
Past and present intertwine at a murder scene where there’s no dead body, just a decapitated head, and the Jewish word for ‘justice’ burned into the furniture. Biblical history and religious rites collide with strange sex and supernatural entities to build a slow-burn modern mythology.
The Devil’s Lieutenant by Shevin Jamali
Now let’s leave the ‘normal’ world behind and plunge headfirst into true supernatural noir with this gritty introduction to hell’s hitman. Lucifer offers the recently bereaved Michael a way to redeem his beloved wife and son from damnation in the fires of hell. Inevitably, Satan’s solution involves the kind of dirty work which leaves a soul stained for all eternity…
The Devil’s Lieutenant combines the hardboiled grit of a bare-knuckle brawl with an intriguing twist into the realm of divinity and the damned. It delivers death, despair and destruction: suicide, murder, incest, betrayal and a bullet through the brainpan – and that’s just the opening chapters!
Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee
We round out our first instalment of compellingly creepy reads with this domestic psychodrama which twists familial intrigue around the modern gothic vibe. Ian Perkins was never his parents’ favoured son, and he left the rural family home without looking back. Years later he returns with his own young family, seeking desperately to mend the fractures in his marriage and piece together the secrets in his parents’ past. But sinister forces in the isolated farmstead seem determined to separate him from his distraught wife. Could the whispered stories of a family curse be true? Ian’s bewilderment infects the reader as his obsession with the past imperils everything he holds dear…
And there’s more! We’ll have another half-dozen superb spine-chilling thrillers for you tomorrow…