Tag Archives: twentieth century

Murder Up the Glen: A West Highland Story (1933) by Colin Campbell

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Colin Campbell is one of those writers about whom frustratingly little is known. “Colin Campbell” was the pseudonym of Douglas Christie (1894-1935), the author of several novels under his real name and under the assumed one. At least three of the novels written as “Colin Campbell” feature the occult detective, Larry Neal. The first, Out of the Wild Hills (1932) is very definitely supernatural, while the third, Murder on the Moors (1934) is a standard whodunnit. The second, Murder Up the Glen (1933), is an altogether more ambiguous affair.

Lorin Weir, visiting a friend in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, is startled to witness a brutal murder, apparently committed by the local ghost known as the Black Walker. No solution, either supernatural or otherwise is given to the murder – and even though it is strongly hinted that the affair has a supernatural solution, no explicit details are given as to what exactly this might be. Neal simply insists that the narrator (and the reader) have been given all the information required to solve the case. The publisher’s blurb in the first edition promotes the novel as having a solution that will satisfy “connoisseurs” of the mystery genre – but frankly, I can’t help feel the inconclusive ending makes this unlikely.

As a supernatural or Gothic mystery, however, the novel is far more satisfying and its atmospheric evocation of a haunted highland landscape of ancient burial mounds, populated by superstitious locals who wouldn’t venture out on Beltane for any price, makes it very much worth reviving for modern readers interested in early-twentieth-century supernatural fiction.

Murder Up the Glen [Kindle]

Murder Up the Glen [Epub]

Murder Up the Glen [PDF]

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unfortunately, this work is not in the public domain in the U.S.A. – in order to comply with United States copyright legislation, readers in that country should not download the ebook.

 

 

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All Souls’ Night (1933) by Hugh Walpole

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Hugh Walpole (1884-1941) was a prolific and hugely popular writer who wrote in many genres, and whose early realist novels were nurtured by a friendship with Henry James. He also wrote popular fiction for a juvenile readership, along with historical romances for older readers. His career as a writer was a refuge from an emotionally traumatic youth and young manhood, in which he grappled with an unhappy school life, latent homosexuality (including an early and powerful crush on fellow ghost-story writer and mentor A.C. Benson) and a waning religious faith that put paid to his father’s ambitions for his son to join him in a clerical career. Walpole earned critical and commercial success as a professional writer, but this was only one aspect of an eventful, if tragically short life – so much so that it’s hard to summarise here. His Wikipedia page is worth a look for his wartime activities alone, and I shall certainly be reading more by Walpole in the future, beyond the supernatural stories, which were the only part of his life and work I had so far been familiar with.

Since his death, Walpole has come to be recognised as a master of the supernatural tale and a staple of ghost story anthologies. His 1933 collection All Souls’ Night contains sixteen examples – including such well-known stories as ‘The Little Ghost’, ‘The Silver Mask’ and the werewolf narrative ‘Tarnhelm’.

All Souls’ Night [Kindle]

All Souls’ Night [Epub]

All Souls’ Night [PDF]

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unfortunately, this work is not in the public domain in the U.S.A. – in order to comply with United States copyright legislation, readers in that country should not download the ebook. The book is available to purchase from Valancourt Books, in an edition which includes a scholarly introduction by John Howard.

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In the Dwellings of the Wilderness (1904) by C. Bryson Taylor

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Charlotte Bryson Taylor’s first novel was published in 1904 by Henry Holt and Company. It is a haunting tale of American archaeologists in Egypt, who get more than they bargained for when they excavate an ancient tomb and break open a door marked ‘Forbidden’ (never a good idea). A curious blend of the antiquarian ghost story and the imperial quest romance, Taylor must have been influenced by Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903). Her own novel has proved to have an equally lasting effect on the ‘mummy’s curse’ genre, however, to the extent that pretty much any subsequent film or literary endeavour depicting a revivified mummy in an Egyptian setting can be said to be indirectly influenced by this book. The sense of mounting horror and the haunting ambiguity of the ending still make this a genuinely unsettling read.

More about the author can be found at Douglas A. Anderson’s absolutely invaluable Lesser-Known Writers blog.

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [Kindle]

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [Epub]

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [PDF]

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