William Hope Hodgson’s tales of the occult detective Carnacki first appeared as a five-part series in The Idler in 1910. This was followed by a further story (‘The Thing Invisible’) in The New Magazine in 1912. In 1913, all six tales were collected in book form as Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. This ebook edition includes the original 1913 volume, together with three further stories which were included in the 1947 edition of the collection as well as the revised version of ‘The Thing Invisible’ from 1948. For more on the textual history of the stories, as well as Florence Briscoe’s original illustrations from The Idler, visit Marcus L. Rowland’s website.
The stories are narrated by Carnacki, a detective specialising in alleged hauntings and other sinister or seemingly impossible goings-on – aided only by his encyclopaedic knowledge of ancient lore and the application of his trusty ‘electric pentacle’. Although the stories are narrated by Carnacki, the ghost-hunter’s narrative is relayed to readers at second hand via an un-named frame narrator – one of several of the detective’s close friends, who gather periodically at Carnacki’s home at Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea embankment to hear an account of his latest case. Carnacki’s open-minded approach to the supernatural is particularly refreshing in that it is uniquely double-edged – never ruling out a supernatural explanation, he is nevertheless equally determined to find a rational explanation if one exists. Consequently, first-time readers never know for sure at the beginning of the tale whether the events narrated will prove to be genuine manifestations or clever hoaxes.