Morbid Mayflowers

Horror & Supernatural paperbacks ’60’s & ’70’s

Cowles – Conan Doyle

Posted by demonik on July 29, 2007

Frederick Cowles – The House On The Marsh: “For God’s sake, sir …. let’s get away from this place. The house is full of flies, there’s a ghost in the library, and there’s dead men in the pond.”
Norfolk: Slade inherits the house from his Uncle Richard, a man with a dreadful reputation locally whose library is filled with obscure black magic texts. Slade was a child when last he saw him and recalls only that “he had an unpleasant way of fondling me on every occasion.” When Richard died, the Priest was unable to bury him with full rites on account of a church invasion by monstrous flies. The dead man’s journal reveals the lengths he was prepared to go to in pursuit of eternal life.
This reads like M. R. James’ Lost Hearts reworked by a pulp author and is, of course, utterly brilliant fun. (Black Magic 5)

Frederick Cowles – The Witch Finder: Madingley, East Anglia. Master Hugh Murray, a contemporary of the infamous Matthew Hopkins, falls into the clutches of Alice Lane and her mother old Margaret Bell. But how can that be? The one he recently tortured and gibbeted, the other he tortured and burnt at the stake five years ago. Now he’s safely strapped to the rack the two get to work. Needless to say they show him as much mercy as he did them in this revolting six pager. (Black Magic 2)

Ralph Adams Cram – No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince: (Black Magic 3)

F. Marion Crawford – The Screaming Skull: Tredcombe Village, Cornwall. Luke Pratt killed his wife having been given the means by retired sea captain Charles Braddock when he innocently related the details of a particularly sadistic murder: the killer poured boiling lead into his victim’s ear via a funnel (!). To avoid detection, Pratt severed his wife’s head and kept it in a hatbox.
Braddock inherits the Pratts’ house on the death of a doctor friend by “hand or teeth of a person or animal unknown”, and the soon the skull is up and out of its box, rolling around and shrieking at him. The late Mrs. Pratt still hasn’t absolved him for giving her wretched husband ideas. (Black Magic 4)

F. Marion Crawford – The Upper Berth: (Bar The Doors)

Aleister Crowley – At The Fork In The Roads: Poet and Black Magician Will Bute sends Hypatia Gay, the woman who loves him, to the flat of rival Count Swanoff to establish a magical link through which he can be destroyed. The Count, himself a Neophyte, urges Miss Gay to defect from Bute but as she leaves she manages to scratch him with her brooch and returns to her lover with a drop of his blood. Mission accomplished!

The following morning Count Swanoff is too weak to reach his bathroom and for ten days and nights he suffers Hellish torments as Bute does his worst, but with the counselling of his ‘Master’ he wins through. Now it is time to punish Hypatia and Swanoff is entirely merciless. Be warned, this is strong stuff, particularly the paragraphs detailing Hypatia’s doom which Crowley obviously couldn’t wait to get to when he rattled this one off.  (Black Magic 4)

Aleister Crowley – The Initiation: (Satanists)

Aleister Crowley – The Violinist: Lily summons the boy demon Remenu with her manic playing. The love-making is joyless and degrading but it achieves her purpose as he bestows upon her the kiss of death. Wait ’til her tiresome boyfriend gets home. (Black Magic 2)

Aleister Crowley – The Vixen: Patricia finally seduces Lord Eyre by means of a pendant soaked in the blood of Margaret, who she’s lashed to a great scarlet cross in the Priest’s hole and severely whips whenever the mood takes her. But the magic moment does not go to plan and Patricia receives her long overdue comeuppance. Parry writes of this one: “A story that the Marquis de Sade would surely have relished … representative of a semi-serious desire on Crowley’s part to shock and outrage less questing souls.” (Black Magic 1)

Warden Allen Curtis – The Seal Of Solomen The Great: The swinish McGear, a government appointed hindrance to an archaeological team exploring Lower Chaldea, infuriates the team and alienates the locals with his boorish behaviour. Hoping to be rid of him for a few days Deming, Horton and the narrator take a fishing sloop and three Arab hands to explore the coastline but McGear insists on accompanying them, guzzles all the water and leaves them seething and dangerously dehydrated. The adventure isn’t an entire disappointment: Horton hauls in a leaden casket which freaks out the Arabs as it bears an inscription to the effect that it contains the spirit of the genie Sacar. McGear is insistent that it actually contains a bottle of impossibly old Cypriot wine and before anyone can stop him he’s broken the seal and downed the contents with explosive results … (Black Magic 2)

M. P. Dare – Borgia Pomade: Lucrezia’s magical face cream. Not one she used on herself, you understand, but rather gifted her love rivals. A couple of dabs and it will disfigure a girl’s face beyond recognition. (Black Magic 3)

August Derleth – The Metronome: Mrs. Farwell drowns her stepson Jimmy. After the funeral he comes back to see that she doesn’t get away with it. The Coroner is mystified by all the wet footprints and the fact that Mrs. Farwell seems to have been suffocated with damp rags. (Bar The Doors)

August Derleth – The Watcher From The Sky: (Satanists)

Philip K. Dick – Upon The Dull Earth: (Black Magic 2)

Charles Dickens – The Trial For Murder: (Where Nightmares Are)

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle – The Final Problem: Holmes versus Moriarty, Napoleon of crime – the fatal last encounter at the Reichenbach falls. (Omnibus Of Evil)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Leather Funnel: Lionel Dacre is an occultist and collector of macabre artifacts, one of which is the inscribed funnel. To test his theory that one can divine in sleep something of the history of a given relic, he persuades the narrator to bed down with it. Our man duly witnesses the ordeal of a murderess who was put to the extraordinary question in a bid to get her to name accomplices. This involves her being tied to a wooden horse while gallons of water are poured down her throat. Unsurprisingly, the narrator wakes up screaming and his host comes rushing to his bed. On being told of his dreadful nightmare, Dacre enquires:
“Did you stand it to the end?”
“No, thank God. I awoke before it really began”
“Ah, it is just as well for you. I held out to the third bucket”.

Hugh Lamb has written of The Leather Funnel: ” … the torture of a 17th century woman is observed by the narrator in a dream, in a story almost pointless other than parading this cruelty.” Yes, it really is that good. (New Chamber Of Horrors)


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