R. Chetwynd-Hayes (ed.) - The 12th Fontana Book Of Great Ghost Stories (1976)
Introduction - R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Daphne du Maurier - Escort Elizabeth Fancett - Elaina Roger F. Dunkley - Twisted Shadow Clodagh Gibson Jarvie - First-Foot S. Baring-Gould - The Leaden Ring Barbara Joan Eyre - That Summer Sir Walter Scott - The Tapestried Chamber Patrick Davis - The Tunnel Sheridan Le Fanu - Ghost Stories Of The Tiled House William Abney - The Matinee Elizabeth Walter - The Travelling Companion Rick Ferreira - Summer And Miss Swanson Margaret Chilvers Cooper - January Ides Dorothy K. Haynes - Barleyriggs Rosemary Timperley - From Another World Sydney J. Bounds - A Little Night Fishing Roger Malisson - A Fairly Great Reckoning Pamela Vincent - Brooding Dark R. Chetwynd-Hayes - Cold Fingers
Daphne Du Maurier - Escort: World War II. Heading home for England, merchant ship The Ravenswing is intercepted by a U-Boat. It's looking grim for stand-in skipper William Blunt and his men until the intervention of a ghost ship commandeered by a fellow with one eye and one arm. Patriotic supernatural fiction in the tradition of Machen's The Bowmen.
Patrick Davis - The Tunnel: World War II. Constable Perkins, accompanied by two youths, on a late night errand of mercy inside the railway tunnel on the first anniversary of a train crash. Just as the old boy warned them, the tragedy is reenacted and they show commendable guts and compassion to complete their mission.
Sabine Baring-Gould - The Leaden Ring: The come-uppance of Julia Demant, eighteen-year-old heart-breaker who has already destroyed two young men by leading them on only to contemptuously reject their marriage proposals. As a result, suitor number one "married beneath himself" on the rebound and young James Hattersley blew his brains out. Old Aunt Elizabeth is scandalised by Julia's indifference to the tragedy, her insistence on attending the ball to seek out victim number three, and launches into a tract about "the young lady of the present day" with whom she has no patience. One Baring-Gould has got this rant out of his system (he's usually good for at least one per story: check out A Dead Finger for his views on the evils of Socialism and poor people), he treats us to a decent enough malevolent ghost story where-in Julia repeatedly experiences the sensation of putting a bullet through your head and dead James comes to claim her as his wife.
Elizabeth Fancett - Elaina: Her first evening back at home after her husband's funeral. She was driving and blames herself for the fatal accident. He is trying to communicate with Elaina, believing her to be the ghost. She feels his cold hand on her arm as she puts her lonely meal into the gas oven ...
Clodagh Gibson Jarvie - First-Foot: Hogmanay, and old Janet receives a New Year's kiss from Robbie Mack, the man she'd dreamt of marrying, who calls at her cottage for a drink. Dr. Bull calls after midnight to break the sad news. Robbie Mack died yesterday evening.
Sydney J. Bounds - A Little Night Fishing: Tregorrow, Cornwall. Cockney villain Robson falls foul of a wrecker’s ghost working in conjunction with the clientele of The Black Swan pub.
Roger Malisson - A Fairly Great Reckoning: Successful Washington lawyer Henry Baynes Neumann moves to a Tudor cottage in Kent to convalesce after a heart scare. He investigates the cellar ... and finds himself thrown back into the late Sixteenth century. He's been summoned by an old magician on behalf of a poet who is eager to know if his fame survives his death ...
Rosemary Timperley - From Another World: Miss Oswald lands a job as secretary to Mr. Barnet which is quite a step up - she’s recently been released from an asylum after trying to kill her drunken father with a poker. Mr. Barnet is an OK boss, but he doesn’t like anybody tidying his desktop. One day a woman strolls past the new girl and pushes Mr. Barnet out of the window. Miss Oswald is blamed, and its back to the asylum for her. She doesn’t mind too much, as she has plenty of friendly company - the dead boss, his dead murderer, a dead colleague killed in a car smash - with her little family growing by the day.
Barbara Joan Eyre - That Summer: Mimi Frost, 21, drowned in a dingy accident, her boyfriend Phil swimming to safety to marry her best friend. Now Mimi’s ghost prowls the beach, looking to share the body of a suitable girl.
Rick Ferreira - Summer And Miss Swanson: Hampstead Heath, 1969. Fairly is interested in renting an attic room and the landlady is suspiciously eager for him to do so at an amazingly low £2 a week and no rules. It transpires that she's had great difficulty letting the place for more than one night as its haunted by the ghost of a lonely young woman who threw herself off the balcony. Despite a nervy first night Fairly stays for six years, having answered the note the dead woman wrote on his shopping list. His compassionate act sets her free.
I'm not normally one for gentle ghosts (or upbeat stories), but found this one delightful.
Elizabeth Walter - The Travelling Companion: Jennifer Mallory finally leaves hospital and boards the train at Paddington, heading for her parents' home to recuperate. Much to her surprise, she's been assigned a chaperon, Tim, who she suspects is queer because she's heard they make the best male nurses. In actual fact Tim is straight and has been through a similar tragedy to Jennifer - he lost his girlfriend in a motorcycle accident. After a grim journey interrupted by a professional mourner from somebody else's funeral, they arrive at her mum and dad's place only to find they've gone away that same day. Snippets of overheard conversation heard from gas-bagging neighbours suggest something isn't quite right. When the couple take a short cut through the cemetery en route to her aunt's place Jennifer learns the awful truth.
Dorothy K. Haynes - Barleyriggs: Yet another desirable residence going at a giveaway price. If House-hunters read more ghost stories they could save themselves plenty of heartache. In the present instance, Barleyriggs is haunted by the ghost of an old girl who gassed herself. The children (and the dog) are the first to see her. Their parents have to wait until the anniversary of her death.
William Abney - The Matinee: An actress returns to the theatre where she enjoyed her greatest successes with the Walter Birch Players and is delighted to discover that tonight's performance is a melodrama, Love From A Stranger, which she remembers well from her days of treading the boards. But then she had to give it up after that nasty business on the last night.
Pamela Vincent - Brooding Dark: Elizabeth and Cynthia attend their first seance. Bored, the sceptical Elizabeth allows her attention to wander to boyfriend Bob which is certainly a more pleasant way of passing the time while the toad-faced medium goes through her repertoire. And, while she's still focusing on Bob, she receives a message from the other side ...
R. Chetwynd-Hayes - Cold Fingers: Young archaeology student Paul Etherington takes a room at the formidable Miss Partridges at a ridiculously low rent. But, in his bed at night, when he feels the ghostly grip on his windpipe, it’s all too clear to him why he’s the only current paying guest and why she’s insistent of feeding him up. More black sorcery jiggery pokery with ectoplasm.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.