Blurb: What is the strange mystery threatening the quaint old fishing village at the quaint old fishing village of Horracombe?
When Dick Truscott becomes manager of a smugglers' inn in this picturesque outpost of Cornwall he is puzzled by the continuing spate of nasty accidents and curious deaths. They seem too frequent for natural causes or sheer coincidence, but who – or what – is responsible?
The chief scapegoat is Kellogg Banks, a rich American intent on building a grand marina despite intense local opposition. Since his workmen started, the disasters have increased. But even Banks cannot manipulate the supernatural forces of the past.
As the long hot summer draws on, tension and fear grow to boiling point – yet still the deaths continue. And while the old and the new clash in bitter rivalry; tearing the small community apart, the dark ferment beneath Horracombe pushes events to a shocking climax.
Daniel Farson is the great-nephew of Bram Stoker, author of the classic horror novel DRACULA.
Could be I'm easily pleased, but having finally turned up a copy on recent W. End jaunt with Mr. Hack, I read Curse through in one sitting, enjoying it almost as much as the equally unhinged Transplant. It's not gory - certainly not by Hamlyn standards - but the deaths are nasty enough, and our hero, Dick Truscott makes for a fabulously inept landlord. Boycott his pub, mail him anonymous "your type not welcome here" threats, and he'll treat you and your surly mates to free drinks and sandwiches. If the author ran his E. End hostelry like Dick runs The Prince then little surprise that "under Dan's control the Waterman's was no ordinary pub".
As mentioned above, the obligatory bad sex interlude, a rape scene out of nowhere suggests a more than passing familiarity with Straw Dogs, and newly-wed Anne's blasé response to same (ah well, no harm done, see you tonight, etc.) fails to convince. Likewise, the Rev. John Cunningham's bodged exorcism of the bone-bag in the cellar and attendant demonic possession of Mrs. Gosse. But somehow, it all seems about right for this particular novel. The key to the mysterious goings-on, as revealed by a passage in "some old bore's" Coastal Wanderings Of A Country Cleric, (very M. R. James), concerns an episode in the late eighteenth century which saw the Horracombe folk re-enacting their Torquemada fantasies on the survivors of a Spanish galleon they'd lured onto the rocks. As told to the Priest by 'Auld Dick' the village idiot, it's by far the most accomplished sequence in the novel.
File under ideal hangover reading. Put me in mind of the Cornish horror novels Peter Tremayne was knocking out for Sphere at around the same time.
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.