Saturday, March 18, 2017

Darkness, Mist and Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper: Volume 3 (2013)

Darkness, Mist and Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper: Volume 3 (2013) by Basil Copper, edited by Stephen Jones.

The third and weakest paperback volume of the Collected Basil Copper does allow the reader of the previous two volumes to survey the writer in full, and here that writer is in decline but still intermittently strong and vital.

An Interview with Basil Copper by Johnny Mains.
Introduction  (Darkness, Mist and Shadow: Volume 3) by Christopher Fowler.

  • When Greek Meets Greek (1997): Vague, disturbing slow-burn revisionist vampire novella.
  • Line Engaged (1999): We've seen the twist more than once.
  • One for the Pot (1999): One of those 'The killer is really...' stories, short and mostly sweet.
  • In a Darkling Wood (1999): Absolutely loopy period piece involving black magic in the 18th-century English countryside. The last 20 pages are weird but utterly unconvincing.
  • The Grass (1999): A piece of juvenalia written when Copper was 14.
  • Riding the Chariot (1999): Psychological horror flips over and crashes over the last few hasty, unconvincing pages.
  • Final Destination (1999): Technically, the final line makes this horror story a 'Paul Harvey.'
  • The Obelisk (1999): Unconvincing tale of invasion from an alternate Earth.
  • Out There (1999): Until the last three pages or so, "Out There" is up there with Copper's superior, earlier stories along similar lines, "Shaft Number 247" and "The Flabby Men." The last three pages are startlingly rushed and ridiculous, but the rest of the story is very satisfying.
  • The Summerhouse (1999): A creaky tale of a child's revenge on a father completely loses its way as the events are explained to us over the last couple of paragraphs.
  • As the Crow Flies (2002): Mildly interesting tale of a crow that hates a guy, but so long.
  • Poetic Justice (2002): Almost a story fragment about the evils of vivisection.
  • Ill Met By Daylight (2002): Fun, M.R. Jamesian tale of a graveyard haunted by... what, exactly?
  • Charing Cross-Dover-Charing Cross (2010): Very much a Twilight Zone fantasy of revenge.
  • There Lies the Danger ... (2002): A real time-waster about rejuvenation treatments leads to a real dud of a final line. 
  • Queen Bee (2005): Mildly interesting tale of a bee that loves a guy, or maybe hates him..
  • Death of a Nobody (2005): Yes, another one of Copper's 'Paul Harvey' stories that eventually reveals it's about a real, historical personage. Zzz.
  • Reflections (2005): There's an evil mirror in this overlong story about... an evil mirror that belonged to a real historical personage!
  • The White Train (2005): Holocaust revenge story is very, very familiar.
  • Hunted by Wolves (2005): Science-fiction background adds nothing to a story about a guy hiding in a tree from some super-wolves.
  • Storm Over Stromjolly (2005): Dud of a revenge story... with a twist!
  • The Silver Salamander (2005): Very slow thriller about a man, his mistress, her husband, and a piece of jewelry.
  • Voices in the Water (2005): Fine, building piece is technically Lovecraftian in its monsters. Not a bad story to finish a career on.

Overall: Lightly recommended, and best read after the first two collections.

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