I Want My Mummy ★★★★☆

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Title: I Want My Mummy
Series: ———-
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 186
Words: 73K



Synopsis:

From the Inside Cover & TOC

TERRORS OF THE TOMB. . .

An Italian Prince is selling something more sinister than art objects in View by Moonlight.

The Sword of Damocles is put to murderous modern use in There Hangs Death!

An insane killer explains the method of his madness in The Pattern.

When Emma discovers the secret ingredient in her lover’s tobacco, their romance goes up in smoke in Pipe Dream.

Mr. and Mrs. Duvec argue fiercely, but death has the last word in The Sound of Murder.

CREEP INTO THE CRYPT

WITH HITCHCOCK

Hitchcock’s favorite Mummy is guarding a horde of horrible treasures. Before your terrified eyes, he will unwrap an unrivaled collection of ghoulish murders that will age you overnight. . .suffocating suspense that will leave you gasping for air. . .and evil artifacts whose curse you can never escape.

Read if you dare, these macabre masterpieces.

TOC

STORIES

View by Moonlight • Pat McGerr

There Hangs Death! • John D. MacDonald

Lincoln’s Doctor’s Son’s Dog • Warner Law

Coyote Street • Gary Brandner

Zombique • Joseph Payne Brennan

The Pattern • Bill Pronzini

Pipe Dream • Alan Dean Foster

NOVELETTE

Shottle Bop • Theodore Sturgeon

STORIES

The Magnum • Jack Ritchie

Voices in the Dust • Gerald Kersh

The Odor of Melting • Edward D. Hoch

The Sound of Murder • William P. McGivern

The Income Tax Mystery • Michael Gilbert

Watch for It • Joseph N. Gores

NOVELETTE

The Affair of the Twisted Scarf • Rex Stout

My Thoughts:

This was originally titled “ Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, Vol 2”. Vol. 1 I didn’t particularly care for and it got a barely passing nod from me. So when I saw the little blurb on the cover stating this was a retitled work, I kind of groaned to myself.

Then I opened up the book and realized there was a Nero Wolfe novella by Rex Stout. Without even reading a word, I mentally bumped this up half a star. I also knew that no matter how this book went, since it was ending on a Nero Wolfe story that I would go away from this a happy camper. Thankfully, my enjoyment of this collection didn’t rest on Wolfe alone.

The story “Lincoln’s Doctor’s Son’s Dog” felt like something that “I” would have written. It was bombastic, it was ego-filled by the narrator and it was stupendously outrageous and the ending was beyond ridiculous. I LOVED it!

I also enjoyed Foster’s “Pipe Dream”. It was pretty obvious from the get-go where this semi-horror story was going, but the ending where the main character gets rolled into the fireplace, well, that just lit a glow of satisfaction in my heart 😉

And then of course things wrap up with Nero Wolfe. I thoroughly liked this novella and just like every other Wolfe mystery, I was simply along for the ride. And I liked that ride. It was a good way to end the book and just made me happy. Probably means it is time to add Wolfe back into my reading rotation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The King in Yellow Tales ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@50%

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Title: The King in Yellow Tales
Series: The King in Yellow Anthology #3
Editor: Joseph Pulver
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 249 DNF/125
Words: 77.5K DNF/39K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Collected within this substantial volume of madness, murder, and spectral tragedy are tales of Carcosa, the characters that inhabit the KIY “Play”, and Chambers’ cosmic horror. Pulver’s tales adhere to Chambers’ core ideas and themes, and they retain all the mystery of Chambers originals. Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. has been acclaimed by many notable editors, writers, and reviewers, as the contemporary heir to Robert W. Chambers’ “King in Yellow”. Have you seen the Yellow Sign?

“‘The King In Yellow’ reigns over the labyrinthine crossroads between the grand indifference of the cosmic Outside, and the inner wasteland of the tormented mind, so it’s no surprise to find Joe Pulver’s saturnine face so frequently behind the Pallid Mask. Joe plies the fathomless depths of existential nightmare breathing music and poetry, and brings back strangely beautiful salvage. That he has so lovingly and deeply explored Chambers’ bizarre pocket universe without destroying the merest scintilla of its mystery is ample testament to his painfully sharp craftsmanship and terrible wisdom.

My Thoughts:

It turns out this was a collection of madness in the form of frenetic poetry and fragments of prose. I thought I could make it through, surviving on the prose but at the 50% mark I simply couldn’t take any more.

I was bored, confused and feeling like someone was grinding broken glass into my earlobes. Not the feeling I want when reading a book. Heck, not the feeling I want, ever.

After the previous book, this was doubly disappointing.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Blandings Castle and Elsewhere ★★★★☆

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Title: Blandings Castle and Elsewhere
Series: Blandings Castle #5
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 229
Words: 82.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The first six stories all take place at the book’s namesake Blandings Castle; they are set some time between the events of Leave it to Psmith (1923) and those of Summer Lightning (1929). Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle is depicted as a gentleman farmer, growing prize pumpkins and especially concerned with his prize pig, Empress of Blandings; he is also concerned with his nieces and nephews as well as the love life of his younger son Freddie Threepwood. The seventh story concerns Bobbie Wickham, an acquaintance and sometime fiancée of Bertie Wooster, who also appears in three of the stories in Mr Mulliner Speaking. The last five are narrated by Mr Mulliner and are set in Hollywood among the movie studios that Wodehouse knew from his time as a screenwriter in 1930–31.

For more detailed synopses, please visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandings_Castle_and_Elsewhere

My Thoughts:

A nice light collection of short stories. The Blandings Castle short stories were everything I could have wanted and were close to a 4.5star rating. Sadly, the rest of the short stories about others aren’t as good. In fact, the one with Bobbie Wickham annoyed me to no end. Wickham is the most annoying girl ever and I didn’t like her in the Jeeves & Wooster stories and I certainly didn’t like her here. The hollywood movie stories simply reinforced my views on Hollywood as a den of iniquity that makes Mos Eisley look like a convent by comparison.

I had dipped my toes back into the Gulag Archipelago this past weekend as I was feeling pretty good after reading MHI Bloodlines and I was only able to get through 5 percent on my kindle before I had to stop. Even One Piece yesterday didn’t really get me out of the funk it put me in. Thankfully, this did the trick. Not that I’m recommending that course of action to any of you, but if you do ever decide to read Gulag, then have some lighter material on hand, you’ll sorely need it.

And I’m done. I’m getting worded out here folks. It is a good thing it is almost the end of the month. I’ll have to come up with some sort of plan to change things for June. That gives me just over a week to think of something and talk about it in the monthly roundup & ramblings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Uncollected Father Brown Stories ★★✬☆☆

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Title: The Uncollected Father Brown Stories
Series: Father Brown #6
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 75
Words: 20K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

The Donnington Affair

The Mask of Midas

My Thoughts:

“….you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
~ Revelation 3:15b-16

One week after finishing this collection of 2 stories I can’t remember a thing about them. The Father Brown stories had started to wear on me so I was looking forward to a much shorter experience, but I wasn’t expecting something so completely bland that I forgot it right after reading it.

There was nothing bad but there was nothing good, hence the Bible verse. Thank goodness the Father Brown stories are done!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, Vol 1 ★★★☆☆

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Title: Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, Vol 1
Series: ———-
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 163
Words: 58K



Synopsis:

From the Inside Cover & TOC

WHO’S THAT PEEKING THROUGH THE KEYHOLE?

Is it a nasty voyeur, looking for illicit views of depraved sensuality?

Is it a special agent of the CIA hunting for a sinister enemy operative?

Is it some tabloid snoop trying to uncover new Washington scandals?

No, Dear Reader, it’s you—squinting with delicious dread at the houseful of horrors that Alfred Hitchcock has designed for your shivery delight. It’s a nice place to look at—from a safe distance. But you wouldn’t want to die there.

Stories to Be Read with the Door Locked

Fourteen skeletons in the closet

HITCHCOCK HAS YOU WHERE HE WANTS YOU.

You’ve drawn the blinds against the night. You’ve taken the phone off the hook. You’ve double-locked every door. But if you think you are safe, you’re dead wrong. There’s no escape once you open this book, and let loose the evil which Alfred Hitchcock has personally packed inside. Here are the most fearsome visitors ever to destroy your defenses and haunt your imagination—in two nerve-twisting novelettes and twelve terror tales.

Table of Contents

Introduction

STORIES

Hijack • Robert L. Fish

Tomorrow. . .and Tomorrow • Adobe James

Funeral in Another Town • Jerry Jacobson

A Case for Quiet • William Jeffrey

A Good Head for Murder • Charles W. Runyon

The Invisible Cat • Betty Ren Wright

NOVELETTE

Royal Jelly • Roald Dahl

STORIES

Light Verse • Isaac Asimov

The Distributor • Richard Matheson

How Henry J. Littlefinger Licked the Hippies’ Scheme to Take Over the Country by Tossing Pot in Postage Stamp Glue • John Keefauver

The Leak • Jacques Futrelle

All the Sounds of Fear • Harlan Ellison

Little Foxes Sleep Warm • Waldo Carlton Wright

NOVELETTE

The Graft Is Green • Harold Q. Masur

My Thoughts:

Ok, so, this volume. This was weird and creepy and not in a deliciously fun and awesome way, but in a dark and uncomfortable way. Reading the cover blurb makes it pretty evident that is exactly what Hitchcock was going for. I didn’t care for it.

Part of it was that the stories were all over the place. You have science fiction with Asimov’s selection (which I had read before several times and so skipped) to body horror of a sorts with Wright’s Little Foxes Sleep Warm to just downright psychotic losers in Jacobson’s Funeral in Another Town to the utterly hilarious entry by Keefauver about how the hippies plot to take over America was foiled. It felt like the stories were in a bag that Hitchcock reached into and selected at random. So far most of these anthologies have been pretty “on topic” with the title and were thematically linked, albeit sometimes very roughly.

The Distributor by Matheson was probably the most disturbing, as the main character, while human in appearance, seems to be more of a devil set on destroying communities one by one. It was all about killing, lying and destroying. It was not pleasant or enjoyable.

Not the worst collection that I’ve read in this “series” but not one that I’d recommend as a starting place.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Death-Reach 2 ★★✬☆☆

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Title: Death-Reach 2
Editor: Cathleen Jordan
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 145
Words: 58K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

UNIDENTIFIED AND DEAD – Bryce Walton

THE BIG BAJOOR – Borden Deal

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON KITE – Edward D. Hoch

FAT JOW AND THE DEMON – Robert Alan Blair

ALL THE SAME – Bill Pronzini

TWO WOMEN—TWO VICTIMS – Donald Honig

HEAVEN IS A FRAME OF MIND – Richard Hardwick

THE OPERATOR – Jack Ritchie

DEATH BY CALCULATION – Donald Martin

FIESTA TIME – Douglas Campbell

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD – John Crowe

My Thoughts:

I actually read this back in January when I was out of work due to covid. It had somehow gotten lost in the mix however, so I never wrote up anything about it.

This was not an actual “Alfred Hitchcock” presents anthology. These were all stories that did appear in his magazine but I don’t know if that was when he was running it or after. He’s not the editor here, but some other person and personally, I blame her for the utter mediocrity of this collection.

I didn’t dislike any particular story but at the same time none of them hit me in the gut either like so many of Hitchcock’s other collections have. It probably didn’t help that I was sick with covid while reading this either.

But the biggest thing is that this book exemplifies WHY I blog at WordPress, Blogspot and Librarything. I had added it to my LT library but never reviewed it, so at least I knew I had read it. Multiple redundancies are a bloggers best friend. Can you imagine the horror of having read this and never recording it? My record would be marred!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Daring Detectives ★★★✬☆

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Title: Daring Detectives
Series: ———-
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 150
Words: 62.5K



Synopsis:

From the Inside Cover

A collection of stories, designed for young readers, about brave detectives and tracking down unscrupulous criminals.

Includes the following 8 stories:

Through a Dead Man’s Eye – CORNELL WOOLRICH

The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim – AGATHA CHRISTIE

The Adventure of the Seven Black Cats – ELLERY QUEEN

The Day the Children Vanished – HUGH PENTECOST

The Footprint in the Sky – JOHN DICKSON CARR

The Case of the Irate Witness – ERLE STANLEY GARDNER

Adventure of the Grice-Paterson Curse – AUGUST DERLETH

Green Ice – STUART PALMER

My Thoughts:

I was glad that the little blurb baldly stated “for young readers”, otherwise my expectations would have been very different and as such so would my reactions to this. In many ways this reminded me of the Haunted Houseful that I read 2 years ago. That was also “for young readers” but I hadn’t realized it at the time.

If you’ve read much detective/crime fiction, you’ll already have heard of some of these authors or realize how some of them stole their ideas from the greats. For example, Christie’s story’s idea is lifted almost wholesale from a Sherlock Holmes story. I won’t go into details, but as soon as I read “X happened”, I knew the rest of the story immediately.

What this book really made apparent to me is that Hitchcock threw his name everywhere, like a possessed child projectile vomiting. Trying to sort out what is his adult fiction vs his young readers stuff is much like trying to pick out the carrots from said projectile vomit. It’s doable, but man, it is messy!

I still enjoyed this, despite comparing it to vomit, hahahahaa. Hitchcock had a talent for picking out stories that he thought would sell and as such they are “good” stories. They are stories that you want to read. None of these books edited by Hitchcock have left me thinking that I should stop. I want to keep on reading them. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In the Court of the Yellow King ★★★★✬

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Title: In the Court of the Yellow King
Series: The King in Yellow Anthology #2
Editor: Glynn Barrass
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 289
Words: 99.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

These Harpies of Carcosa — W. H. Pugmire

The Viking in Yellow — Christine Morgan

Who Killed the King of Rock and Roll? — Edward Morris

Masque of the Queen — Stephen Mark Rainey

Grand Theft Hovercar — Jeffrey Thomas

The Girl with the Star-Stained Soul — Lucy A. Snyder

The Penumbra of Exquisite Foulness — Tim Curran

Yield — C. J. Henderson

Homeopathy — Greg Stolze

Bedlam in Yellow — William Meikle

A Jaundiced Light at the End — Brian M. Sammons

The Yellow Film — Gary McMahon

Lights Fade — Laurel Halbany

Future Imperfect — Glynn Owen Barrass

The Mask of the Yellow Death — Robert M. Price

The Sepia Prints — Pete Rawlik

Nigredo — Cody Goodfellow

MonoChrome — T. E. Grau

My Thoughts:

In the fantasy Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, there is a power called Saidin and Saidir. One half can be used by males and the other half by females. The male half, Saidin, was tainted by the Dark One thousands of years before the series starts. The main character, Rand, can use Saidin but is affected by the taint. He describes the experience as wrestling with fire and ice that is covered with a putrid oil. He never feels more alive than when using Saidin but the taint makes him sick and drives him insane.

That is how these two Cosmic Horror Series (Cthulhu & King in Yellow) seem to be affecting me.

I couldn’t stop reading this. The stories dragged along relentlessly. I felt like I had jumped into a river and that it turned out to be way more powerful than anticipated. There were times I was in the center, speeding along, but then there were times when the stories pushed me into the banks or slammed me into hidden rocks beneath the surface. By the end of this I felt battered, emotionally and spiritually. Yet I had never felt so alive either.

It was an extremely disturbing dichotomic feeling. I had to stop and really ask myself if I was capable of reading more of this stuff. While I acknowledge that I have changed over the years, is the change engendered by reading stories like these the kind I want to voluntarily submit to? Whether I like to admit it or not, what we put into our minds does affect us.

Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision right away. I’ve got another month before I cycle back to this cosmic horror duology.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Scandal of Father Brown ★★★☆☆

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Title: The Scandal of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #5
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 239
Words: 65K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

The Scandal of Father Brown

The Quick One

The Blast of the Book

The Green Man

The Pursuit of Mr Blue

The Crime of the Communist

The Point of a Pin

The Insoluble Problem

The Vampire of the Village

My Thoughts:

While not bad, I really didn’t enjoy my read this time. I don’t know if there was more, but I noticed the fact that Father Brown would almost like clockwork make a vague announcement and then express surprise when everyone would proceed on that statement in the logical direction the statement was leading. He’d then explain why they were all wrong and why his statement was still correct. But in a sense that nobody but himself would EVER have thought of.

Plus, I’ve not read the word “Puritan” or some derivative so many times in one novel. Not even the Scarlet Letter ranted against them as much! Apparently wanting to take care of your body by not ingesting various poisons that we all know will kill you is a sure-fire way of being a kill-joy and kill-joys are Satan’s minions. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty obvious Chesterton had a thing against Protestants. It was really annoying by the end.

This was the last Father Brown novel in this Chesterton omnibus and I am glad. Like several other mystery writers I have been reading, I’d reached my limit even with judicious spacing out. We’ll have to see what I think of his other writings. I am looking forward to them because despite all my grumblings about Father Brown, I still think they are good writing. They just need to be read at a much greater length (like one a year perhaps) than I was willing to go.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cthulhu Lies Dreaming ★★★✬☆

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Title: Cthulhu Lies Dreaming
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #2
Editor: Salome Jones
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 389
Words: 134.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Foreword: Cthulhu, Lies, Dreaming by Kenneth Hite

Nikukinchaku by Matthew J. Hockey

Babatunde by Ayobami Leeman Kessler

The Myth of Proof by Greg Stolze

Service by Lynnea Glasser

The Star that is Not a Star (The Statement of Natasha Klein, April 1996) by Lucy Brady

August Lokken by Yma Johnson

Wake My Lord by M. S. Swift

Puddles by Thord D. Hedengren

Sometimes, the Void Stares Back by Marc Reichardt

Beyond the Shore by Lynne Hardy

Bleak Mathematics by Brian Fatah Steele

Father of Dread by Matthew Chabin

He Sees You in His Dreams by Samuel Morningstar

Isophase Light by Daniel Marc Chant

Icebound by Morris Kenyon

Seven Nights in a Sleep Clinic by Saul Quint

Mykes Reach by William Couper

Notes for a Life of Nightmares: A Retrospective on the Work of Henry Anthony Wilcox by Pete Rawlik

Offspring by Evey Brett

Out on Route 22 by E. Dane Anderson

The Red Brick Building by Mike Davis

The Lullaby of Erich Zann by G. K. Lomax

Cymothoa Cthulhii by Gethin A. Lynes

My Thoughts:

I am finding that the Cosmic Horror genre is my weakness. Mostly in the sense I would naturally abhor everything contained within it (hopelessness, dread, despair, the absolute insignificance of man) but that within these stories not only do I NOT abhor them, I practically revel in them. I was thinking about this as I was nearing the end of my read trying to figure out why this was. When I read Hard Day’s Knight the other month, the very mention of Jesus not being strong enough to combat the powers of Hell sent me into a frenzy of practically calling down fire on the authors unbelieving head. Yet in this collection when God is simply dismissed as a non-entity in the face of the elder gods, I didn’t blink. Why? I don’t know yet but I’m keeping that question in the forefront of my mind as I continue reading this genre. Once I figure it out I’ll be mentioning it in one of the reviews.

This collection started out fantastically with “Nikukinchaku”. A story about a school teacher facing budget cuts and how she cuts costs by buying nikukinchaku, a cheap food source that everybody loves. The story ends with the things eating a teacher, the dealer drowning himself in a toilet and everyone who has eaten the nikukinchaku heading out to see to answer “a call” they all can hear, including the teacher. This story had the perfect sense of dread and psychological horror. It was almost literally delicious to read. While some of the other stories had more horror, this was a great way to start.

Sadly, every collection has a low point and this one’s was “Father of Dread”. Incest fantasy between adopted siblings and teen hormones. I don’t need or want to read about a teen boy masturbating to thoughts of his adopted sister. This story is the main reason this was 3.5stars instead of 4.

Salome Jones has done another great job with this anthology and I’m really impressed. To the point where I’ll be looking her up to see what else she has put together. That’s pretty high praise coming from me. That’s if I can figure out how to search for editors instead of authors of course.

I had mentioned in the previous Cthulhu Anthology that I was wanting to space these out a bit more so as to lessen the impact on myself from these soul destroying stories. After reading this my desire is intensified all the more. So instead of reading nothing but Cthulhu Lore, I’ll be spacing it out with a couple of King in Yellow anthologies. Brilliant or what?!?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.