A while back I was browsing through the list of Penguin’s little black classics when I came across Lot No.249 by Arthur Conan Doyle. It wasn’t one I was familiar with. It was described as the first story to feature a supernatural mummy. Not being overly familiar with mummy literature, excepting the ring of Thoth, also by Conan Doyle and of a different variety, the mummy not being the supernatural element, when I was obliged to buy some books for my next course I decided to treat myself to this one at the same time; well it would be rude not to. For £1 it seemed worth a try.
The story centres around three students who occupy rooms in a secluded part of their college. Life is quiet until a series of strange occurrences begin to take place on campus.
The story is dramatic with moments of tense and atmospheric action. There is also the traditional element of an unbeliever finding the truth thrust upon him.
Yes, to the modern reader the plot may feel familiar and obvious but for the first mummy story of its kind I can imagine this was something of a spine chiller back in the day.
It is as well written as we have come to expect from a Conan Doyle story and I found it to be a fun, quick read. Being a Little Black Classic this was short but sweet and well worth the investment of £1 to discover a new (to me) Conan Doyle horror and one of the best of his that I’ve read in this genre so far.
Today I’d like to introduce you to John Silence Psychic investigator the creation of Algernon Blackwood. It’s almost impossible in describing John Silence to avoid allusions to Sherlock Holmes but he is something of a psychic Sherlock. He uses reason and logic and combines them with his psychic training to help people suffering from psychic afflictions. In the sense that he is curing maladies rather than solving crimes he might be better compared to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s lesser known Dr Martin Hesselius whose cases feature in the collection’ In A Glass Darkly’ . Continue reading →
Today’s short story recommendation is The Terror of Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.I wanted to plug a Conan Doyle story because when you think of ghost story and horror writers Conan Doyle’s name isn’t necessarily one of the first to spring to mind. Due to the phenomenal (and richly deserved) success of his Sherlock Holmes series much of his other work is overlooked. I may write a small monograph on the subject 😉 . Continue reading →
For the first of my short story recommendations I thought I’d start with one of my earliest favourites. Oh Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by M.R James. I picked this one because I remember it being one of the first ghost stories that really gave me the creeps.
A quiet seaside holiday for a slightly uptight academic, Professor Parkins, takes a sinister turn in classic James style. The professor is on holiday alone but the only room the inn can offer him has two beds. This doesn’t seem like a very big problem until the question arises: If the professor has only slept in the one bed then who or what has been disturbing the sheets in the other?
A slow creeping story with some great imagery from the master of the ghost story genre. I recommend reading this one on a windy night.
The link below is to the Collector’s Library edition of M.R James’s complete ghost stories. They are beautiful little hardback books with their own ribbon markers. This is the edition I own.