Post by franklinmarsh on Jan 17, 2017 13:21:51 GMT
The Monster’s Lament – Robert Edric (Black Swan 2014)
Nominally a crime novel, set in London’s seedy Soho underworld in the dying days of World War Two, and enlivened by special guest star, an ailing Aleister Crowley. Tommy Fowler is the current crime kingpin, lording in The Regency, a seedy nightclub full of good-time girls and watered-down drinks, a clip joint for servicemen, those in reserved occupations and anyone with the money for the girls, the drinks and gambling. He employs the likes of Frankie Doll, a two-bit would-be gangster who is looking for post-war opportunities to become the new Tommy Fowler, and Sweeney, a cleft-lipped errand boy who shares a four storey house with Veronica, a fading fifty year old alleged clairvoyant. Hapless young Peter Tait, an innocent who’d become embroiled in a Fowler hold-up, and is now in a condemned cell, awaiting execution for a murder he didn’t commit. As his exact time and date of death have been set, Crowley sees an opportunity for a ritual that, if successful, would grant him immortality. He and his assistant Silver approach Fowler to ferry a talisman (in this case a magickally tampered-with bible) to Tait, to enable the aging Occultist’s plans to cohere. Ruby Nolan, a street girl chancer at The Regency and fascinated by tabloid sensationalism about Crowley, witnesses the meeting of Perdurabo and Fowler, and when Crowley nominates Sweeney to take the bible to Pentonville, she’s determined to get in with the scarred lad, and through him meet up with the Wickedest Man In The World. Frankie Doll has been looking to forge links with one of Tommy’s pornographers, with a view to branching out on his own in the changing world of peace, but his girl Laura, anothy Regency slattern, has some dirt on a young relation of Fowler’s who was involved in the robbery gone wrong, that gained Tait his death sentence. Just coming up to the end of this and it’s been very enjoyable. Not highly thought of by the crits, but a nice piece of Occult related crime fiction noir. If they’re all like this I must seek out some more of Edric’s novels which seem to take an rather odd look at history, if the blurbs for Devil’s Beat, The London Satyr and Sanctuary are anything to go by.