I've been working my way through a number of the excellent London Mystery Selection anthologies, and noticed a number of excellent stories by L. P. Davies, who wrote under several pseudonyms as indicated below. He's also written quite a few novels which would be right at home in the Vault. He seems to have written either sci-fi or horror; all quite satisfying. As far as I can see, he hasn't used different names for different genres. As for his day job, (according to Wikipedia) "he worked as a pharmacist, post-master, optometrist, and gift shop owner as well as serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France, Italy and N. Africa". So far I've enjoyed:
The Sight of Blood (as Leslie Vardre) LMS #44 March 1960
Jalby Britson decides to murder his wife, but hates the sight of blood. What to do?
A Touch of Murder (as Leo Berne) LMS "
"Clerky" Furnace is shamed by his pals at the bar into breaking and entering "an 'ouse out 'Olborn way" where he expects to get a nice haul. With considerable trepidation, he arrives and gets inside the house only to encounter one of the home owners.
No Vacancies (as Leo Berne) LMS #45 June 1960
A caretaker received an unexpected midnight visitor to an empty house. An original twist at the end, even if you can guess some or all of it.
Oasis Incident (as L. P. Davies) "
Colley is talked into partnering with smooth-talking old army-buddy Koln in a venture to start a farm in Algeria. I didn't quite get the ending of this one.
The Wall of Time (as Leslie Vardre) "
A doctor is called out in the middle of a stormy, rainy night to tend to a sick man at a farmhouse. His car breaks down & he begs a lift of a passing Post Office van. Unfortunately the man feels unable to help & drives on. Unfortunate for more than the doctor.
The Wrong One (as Morgan Evans) "
As described in my thread "A Visit to the Dentist's...)
The Word of Wally Spender (as Morgan Evans) LMS #46 Sept. 1960
A tramp tells the unnamed narrator of a murder he plans to commit, and why.
Infiltrant (as L. P. Davies) "
Danvers, a journalist, begins to have grave reservations about the behaviour of his son, Colin. He died briefly shortly after birth but was revived. Researching, he finds this phenomena replicated in many hospitals all over the country, totalling nearly 400.
"And how long would it be before these - children - would be ready?"
The Messenger (as L. Vardre) "
Maddox is released from prison after a short sentence on the same day as another man is hanged. But why is he often over come by dizziness and headaches, and why the sudden compulsion to visit Eltham?
Mandragora Sapiens (as Morgan Evans) LMS #47 Dec. 1960
Mr. Vance decides to grow an unknown tuber bought from his local grocer & supposedly from a South American expedition, in his conservatory. Masters, a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and fellow member of Vance's club, advises him how to go about this. His sister Dora, usually scornful of this kind of thing, becomes strangely obsessed. She starts to use make-up, buys herself a new dress & lets her hair down (literally) and spend lots of time near the plant. Yet Vance, who comes to dislike the plant more and more, can't quite bring himself to get rid of it...
The Rainmakers (as L. P. Davies) "
Uncle Habeous gives a public lecture about his explorations in Mbini country of Africa with his partner Brewster, where he witnesses successful rain making using drums. Mullard & Spooner attend the lecture &, after Uncle H. refuses a generous payment to show them the way, insist on going there to find & bring back the drums.
Tea-Time (as L. Vardre) "
Meldrum wakes from an afternoon nap at his club. Something is hovering at the edge of his memory; everything seems familiar and yet different.
The Happiest Days (as G. K. Thomas) "
Mr. Jessop "local savant" tries a time-travel experiment on Joe, taking him back to his (unhappy) school days.
Frontier (as Richard Bridgeman) "
Inspector Jhasa and his soldiers search a little-populated train car for Emsworth. Well written but nothing macabre or sci-fi.
Mirror Boy (as L. P. Davies) LMS #48 Feb. 1961
Peter is a "mirror boy" having all his internal organs on the opposite side. Born just after a rail-crash, he becomes an atomic scientist as the atomic research station near the site of his expectant mother's fatal rail crash. His father worries about the growing distance between his son and himself, and decides to pay him a visit.
The Man Who Lost His Past (as G. K. Thomas)
43yr old Thadius Baxter starts to forget a year of his life upon waking every morning. Soon his wife is having the same problem, as are his doctor and many of the doctor's patients.
The Man With No Face (as L. Vardre) "
Blake, a portrait photographer, visits his sister in her small town & becomes obsessed with her unnerving new neighbour, Mr. Dankar.
The Morgan Trust (as R. Bridgeman)
Selby Pyle "middle-aged gentleman of leisure and assured income" is also an amateur psychic investigator. He decides to visit Cwmbach, Wales after reading of some hauntings in a small booklet. For a change of pace, this one's charming.
The Ju-Ju (as L. P. Davies) LMS #49 May 1961
Minai flees southward to find the Camel Corps, the only people capable of standing up to Kulassi, the man who kidnapped her husband & wants her in return. She brings along a ju-ju, her father's prized possession, which he brought from the white man's lands.
No School on Friday (as L. Vardre) "
Rowland Pethers worries about his son Peter. He's started lying, playing truant, and generally falling under the influence of new boy Martin Sears. Mr. Thomas, a teacher at Peter's school, has an accident while trying to visit Sears, and later mysteriously has a fatal fall down his stairs. Sears gets all the kids to decide to give themselves a holiday from school on Friday; it seems every school now has a new boy like Sears. Pethers speculates as to why....
After The Great Light (as G. K. Thomas) "
Vaguely sci-fi, skipped this one.
Not On Sundays (as R. Bridgeman) LMS #51 Nov. 1961
Dad Lomas isn't happy with his son Terry's demand for a toy dog. But he gives in reluctantly, although he buys him a train set in hopes of it being a distraction from the toy he considers less than acceptable for a boy. Soon he notices his wife's poodle is scared of the toy, and hears sounds of a dog in the house when the poodle is out. He decides to destroy the toy and soon his son's attention is fixed on the train set.
The Dream Pedlar (as L. Vardre) "
Serially unsuccessful Mr. Gee comes across a small shop in an unfamiliar part of town, with a sign in it's window "Purveyor of Dreams". Could this be the help he needs? Could have made it into the "Temptations Ltd. Evil Antique Shops" thread, but it's not really evil per se.
The Addict (as L. P. Davies) "
Jason Calvert's neighbour Rawley is knocked down by a car & admitted to hospital. He goes to visit the recovering man, who seems to be in better shape than before he went into hospital. Vowing to become a better neighbour, he offers support to Rawley and his sister Alice. But after a short while, Rawley appears worse than before, & is readmitted. His sister tells Calvert of her attempt to tempt her brother to eat, such as an omelet in a pan brushed with a clove of garlic. Rawley returns home again, refreshed and looking well, although with an aversion to light. Calvert struggles with his suspicions. Too bad this wasn't included in any of the many many many vampire anthologies, it deserves a wider audience.
The New Life (as L. P. Davies) LMS #52 March 1962
Senior Dr. Crawley is a "euthanasic specialist" in the year 2193. Mutant births due to radiation have increased tremendously in the last 40 years. The State controls every aspect of people's lives; obliges them to breed & decides which of their children shall live or die. Dr. Crawley grapples with the State's enforced euthanasia of borderline mutants, the "espers" (esp-ers)....
Dressed to Kill (as L. P. Davies) "
Alfred Meers decides to kill his wife Gladys, thanks to years of "her acid-sharp tongue, overbearing manner and lavish spending". Due to her compulsive clothes shopping, poor Alf wasn't able to prevent his firm going out of business. He realizes the insurance he took out on her will pay out nicely, should a fatal accident befall her. Rain has loosened an large rock that looms above the short-cut Gladys takes (on foot) weekly to the Women's Institute in Wroxham to 'chatter and show off her clothes". After giving her a good bash with a spanner (wrench) in the bedroom, he pulls a coat and gloves from her wardrobe, puts them on her, and takes her by car to arrange her body and make it look the like that rock did the job. The ending was a little weak, but the last paragraph made up for that.
The Miracle Workers (as Morgan Evans) LMS #53 June 1962
The unknown narrator, yet another reporter, stumbles across an amazing series of events. A young girl is involved in a hit and run accident but mysteriously survives. Her neighbour Peter Marsden visited her in the hospital. It seems he was around when a young boy was involved in an accident that should have been fatal, and he himself recovered from paralysis caused by polio. Who or what is helping him perform these miracles?
Members Only (as L. P. Davies) "
The mostly unnamed narrator (Mr. Poulter) & his partner Nonnie, have opened a night-club. Feeling sorry for him, they give old Pete a job as doorman. One day some goons show up with their boss, Garrett, and give Pete a few bruises for trying to stop them entering. Garrett offers the men a good price for the club which they decide to accept, still wondering what the "catch" will be. At Saturday midnight, they find out. Meanwhile, Pete has to take a few days off because of his sore throat. His namesake replacement, Peter, has a lot of experience guarding doorways and keeping people out of places they don't deserve to get into.
Botany Bay (as Thomas Philips) "
The Rodneys return home from a holiday to find their neighbours, the Melvilles, mysteriously gone. Their house is one of three three in a row; their remaining Neighbours (sic), a couple in the third house moved into suddenly empty house two months ago after the disppearance of the previous occupants. Mr. Rodney, a free-lance journalist, gives them a closer look with his binoculars; pointed ears, similar features, and two strange marks on each, just above their elbows. They receive no mail, newspapers, buy nothing at the local shops & generally stay indoors. He sends an article to a publisher who asks for a meeting. It seems he has neighbours who look exactly like the Rodney's neighbours. The publisher and Rodney come to the conclusion you and I would, although with a small difference.
Gilda (as L. P. Davies) LMM Sept. 1962
A man's neighbour keeps his little daughter in an empty room for 3-4 hours at a time, in hopes her imagination will bring something to life. It does.
Sleeping Beauty (as Leslie Vardre) "
Inspector Gregson tells Sgt. Tiller of the tragedy at Hanslett House. Hannibal's beautiful wife Madeline is left paralysed after a riding accident.
Time and Again (as Morgan Evans) "
Nine year old Edwin has had most of his sixpence allowance docked because he didn't perform his chores well enough. On impulse, he steals a bar of toffee from Mrs. Tapscott's shop in the "dreamy" village where he lives. Overcome with remorse, he decides to run away. Before he can do so, a man in a car arrives to ask directions. He helps Edwin to decide it's really for the best to try to return the toffee. He's able to do so without Mrs. T seeing, then pays for a bar.
Five years later, he and his family move away and eventually Edwin becomes manager in an estate agent's. His son Max is not satisfied with the pay and wants to quit; one day Edwin distractedly leaves the safe open with a thousand pounds in it. Max absconds with the money and disappears, only to return the next evening. Using a spurious pretext, Erwin gives Max the office keys; without saying a word they both know what he's really going to do. On his way out, Max tells his father he has a present for him "Something that was given to me earlier this afternoon. By a kiddie in a lonely village, somewhere at the back of beyond". Of course, it's "a tuppenny bar of shining toffee"
The Seventh Man (as L. P. Davies) LMM #55 December 1962
Analytical chemist Trevor Ransome also has an interest in marine biology. Just after he sends off the finds of some research he's been working on for 25 years, he receives an acceptance letter dated 25 years ago. He'd applied to join an expedition to the Amazon (where all later drowned) as a biologist, but received only a curt refusal from the leader Gerald Rumbold. That night, he dreams of being part of a jungle expedition. The next day, he receives a phone call from a Prof. Hollinger, asking to see him because of the vital importance of his research to mankind. Ransome decides to visit Rumbold's widow in hopes of finding out why his letter arrived so late. He reads letters from Rumbold to his wife, describing his and the members' hallucinations of a seventh man on the expedition. Ransome leaves in the middle of heavy rain, hoping to cross the bridge over a road-widening scheme in safety.
Mermaid Beach (as L. Vardre) "
Workmates Brett and John travel south down the Cardigan coast of Wales. They find themselves on a deserted beach with a dilapidated beach hut. Brett suggests they use the place as a week-end getaway and stay in the cabin. An old man is helpfully just passing by; he tells them the locals don't visit the beach at night, certainly not when the wind is blowing from the sea and "she" can be heard. Three men have drowned, all with smiles on their lips. Exit old man. Brett scoffs at this and suggests they return next Saturday for the weekend. John, fearing derision, agrees. They have a pleasant Saturday but on Sunday a storm comes up. They retreat to their cabin to wait it out. Suddenly the start to hear a woman's voice, singing. They're a bit creeped out, until Brett remembers they forgot their radio they'd put in one of the dunes while swimming. What a relief! Brett goes out to retrieve it before it's ruined. John goes to get some towels for Brett to dry off with, only to see the radio tumble out. He's unable to leave the cabin (good for him) and Brett's body is found washed up not far away. Naturally, he's also smiling.
The Gate (as L. P. Davies) LMM #56 March 1963
Jeff's wife Hetty keeps nagging him to build a new gate to stop the neighbour's cows from eating her vegetables. But Jeff is always too interested in building "toys" such as a weatherwane or now, an ant farm. But he discovered all the ants he'd put in are disappearing, even though there are no holes or ways they can escape. He puts more ants in, notes them all following the same pathway, and the same thing happens. Are they escaping into a fourth dimension? He constructs a connection of tubing that cause marbles to disappear. If he can build a small one, why not a big one, big enough for humans to fit in? He builds one in the orchard where Hetty can't see it. However, it seems everything that went into the fourth dimension is returning, but now enlarged to fit the new tube. Everything....
Time in Hand (as Leslie Vardre) "
Kindray tells fellow club members about an old woman and her nephew move into an odd above ground vault with lead lined walls. The old lady sets her clocks 5min ahead and expects the rest of the world to do the same. Suddenly the tv time syncs with the old lady's time. She resets the clocks again, and the house does it again. Soon she's over 4 months ahead. She dies but revives in her coffin once it's outside. She lives until her time is up. Then the nephew starts experimenting on his own.
The Shadow Before (as Morgan Evans)
Davey Hunter returns to Fernley. As an 11yr old, he and his family lived there and his dad was a detective sergeant. A murder is committed at nearby Gorton. The victim is a man with many enemies; so many he left his estate in good order along with a list of suspects. Despite that, he overhears his dad name a suspect they plan to arrest. He rushes off to inform "the gang", a group of local farmers' sons who have so far rebuffed his interest in joining, being "an outsider from the city, speaking and dressing differently." Despite this nugget of information, he's still expected to pass a test before being accepted; to spend an hour in decrepit Wolden House alone, after dark, between 10:30 and 11:30. "Wolden House was a desolate place of tall gables and twisted chimney-stacks.It stood by the cross-roads in a half circle of lowering trees " Of course, it's reputedly haunted by the ghost of a tramp who hung himself and re-appears nightly at 11:30. Davey is obliged to agree and leader Wally and member Ben go with him to "make sure you does it right." He's warned off by the local constable because it's dangerous, and his dad tells him there's no record of anybody ever dying there. Naturally they're wasting their breath. Davey plans to go inside & sneak out the back for an hour, until the church bells ring and he can go back inside and out the front. However he's surprised to meet a man in the house, warming up a tin of beans over a makeshift fire, which he shares with Davey. The boy tells the man why he's there, and leaves just before 11:30. Respect from the gang is won, but the next day he hears some shocking news. Well, maybe not to any of us!
I published an article on L. P. Davies, by Eddy C. Bertin, in Shadow: Fantasy Literature Review, issue 8, 1969. It was called "The Psycho Worlds of L. P. Davies" and mainly concentrated on the author's novels...
And many thanks to Swampi for the fascinating enumeration of Davies' works. The names G. K. Thomas and Morgan Evans both sound familiar, but I can't recall where I would have read the stories. I would never have guessed that these were all the same person. It seems to have been practically de rigueur for professional writers in the early to mid 20th century, perhaps up till around 1980, to publish under multiple names. They had access to the widest possible market through that strategy.
That's fascinating, Piglingbland. I wonder how many libraries would hold that periodical. I have never heard of it--it sounds very cool. And from 1969!
Can't let this pass without my traditional moan at lack of a Voices of Shadow volume 2! If I remember correctly, Eddy C. Bertin's first article for Shadow was an appreciation of Charles Birkin?
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.