Gruesome Cargoes

Horror fiction 1925-1937: ‘Not At Nights’ & ‘Creeps’

At Dead Of Night

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – At Dead Of Night – (Selwyn & Blount, Nov, 1931)


Lorretta G. Burrough – Creeping Fingers
F. A. M. Webster – The Owl
Geoffrey Vace – Four Doomed Men
Seabury Quinn – The Curse Of The House Of Phipps
Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands
David H. Keller – The Seeds Of Death
Henry S. Whitehead – Passing Of A God
August Derleth – Prince Borgia’s Mass
Flavia Richardson (Christine Campbell Thomson) – Pussy
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Wonderful Tune
Paul Ernst – The Scourge Of Mektoub
Michael Annesley – Rats
Richard Jackson & A. Edwards Chapman – The Idol Of Death
Everil Worrell – The Grey Killer
Charles Henry MacKintosh – Guardian Of The Guavas

Michael Annesly – Rats: A Berkley barn is besieged by million upon million of them. The occupants, Sir Edward Fanshawe and his camping party, including a young mother and child, are soon fighting a losing battle in the dark. “Oh God, I’m up to my waist in rats. I’m being eaten alive!”

Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands:The ghoulish journo, Warwick, may have had his heart broken by the heroine of this nasty tale, but he’s not one to let sentiment stand in the way of his profiting from a sensational scoop.
A manicurist extracts deliberately protracted revenge on a man who wronged her mother. Incest, rotting flesh and a deformed baby also loom large. Never let it be said that Cook did things by halves.

Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands: As soon as you see a title like that, alarm bells start to ring because you know that something very nasty indeed is going to happen to those hands. The hands in question belong to a violinist who is besotted with a young woman manicurist in a hairdressing salon. It soon becomes clear that something is terribly wrong, but neither the young woman nor any of the salon’s customer’s can persuade the man that he is in need of something other than a manicure. It’s a story of revenge and obsession, and more than that cannot be said without giving away the story. Roger Pile

Richard Jackson & A. Edwards Chapman – The Idol Of Death: “Bad luck is prophesied to each seventh owner of the idol.” The narrator is assured that he’s the unfortunate seventh, but he remains supremely sceptical about the whole business. When it’s stolen, the thief learns to his cost that somebody got their sums wrong …

David H. Keller – The Seeds Of Death: The Duke of Mercia, down on his luck, agrees to investigate a series of disappearances around the Andoran castle of Lady Helen. A demon flower tale which makes fine use of gothic paraphernalia and also scores by having the bad guy – or girl – come out on top.

August Derleth – Prince Borgia’s Mass: Satanists are stealing the bodies of the dead and using them in their blasphemous ceremonies. Cesare Borgia and his men sneak up on them as they celebrate Walpurgis night and, at his command, all nine participants are crucified upside down. Together with his Magi, Rene, he performs his own variation on the Black Mass. He and Rene are more adept practitioners of the Black Mass than their captives and summon Beelzebub who reduces the sorry sect to ashes.

Flavia Richardson – Pussy: Godfrey Ellington buys a little green cat figure in a shop off the British Museum. His own puss, Simpkins, has an aversion to it from the first – as well it might. The ikon is the earthly receptacle of Bubastis. It doesn’t stay small for long …

Loretta G. Burrough – Creeping Hands: The hotel is full save for the rarely used room 317. The manager advises Kent that it is perhaps not in his interest to use the bath as “people don’t like it”. Kent pays no heed and is nearly drowned when a ghost tries to reenact its crime of three years ago …

F. A. M. Webster – The Owl: Alison of Horley Grange is “one of the loveliest creatures ever created by the good God”, so it’s a foregone conclusion that she’s in for a tough time of it. Her father owes sinister Simeon Stroud £20, 000, so she selflessly agrees to wed him despite his having pointed ears. But then she falls for nice Tom Mercer who has just returned from South America and knows all about Stroud’s involvement with an evil Aztec bird cult. Stroud is furious when Mercer pays the old man’s debt and weds his bride-to-be. As the happy couple celebrate their honeymoon at Ulswood in the Lake District, Stroud attacks them in the guise of a huge owl, training his talons on the sleeping usurper’s eyes ….

Geoffrey Wace (Hugh B. Cave) – Four Doomed Men: Oriental Stories, Summer 1931). Delhi. Chowkander King of the secret service investigates a stabbing in the house of Sikh agitator Rahman Singh after four men met to view his “priceless” ruby. One of their number stole the gem and now each guest is under a death sentence, but who is carrying out the murders? Mystery rather than horror.

Seabury Quinn – The Curse Of The House Of Phipps: Woolwich, Massachusetts. In 1775, Joshua Phipps and his Puritan stooges murdered French slave Marguerite DuPont after she’d given birth to his son. As she was buried alive, Marguerite avowed that whenever a child was born into the family, the father would die with blood on his mouth.
In the present day, Edwin Phipps approaches De Grandin and Trowbridge to rid him of the curse. They camp down in the haunted house where Marguerite was forced into a hole and sealed in beneath a heavy hearth-stone …

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