It was lovely to press my thimble on it, and see all the pretty little holes it left ; or to push a naughty finger deep down into the nice soft stuff. I used to look with great interest on my work, for every impression was there, and could not now be removed. So it is with books, they make an impression on you ; and you are either a little bit better or a little bit worse for every book you read. Take care only to read those books that will make you bJler.
The summer after Jack decided to be a minister, he read two books which made some big impressions on his mind, and left him better than he was before reading them. He did not at all agree with Thomas a Kcmpis, the writer of the first book I mentioned, in everything, though, for he made out, according to Jack's idea, that we should always be miserable. I think Jack would never have persevered in his determination to follow Christ, if he had been con- vinced that " to be good you must be miserable," for he loved fun, and could not help being happy.
He felt sure Thomas a Kempis was mistaken, especially when he remembered that verse in the Bible which says religion's ways " are ways of pleasantness" Prov. When he wrote home, he The Story of John Wesley. His mother wrote back that she thought Thomas a Kempis tvas mistaken, for so many texts in the Bible show us that God intends us to be happy and full of joy.
If the young man would rejoice in his youth, let him take care that his pleasures are innocent ; and in order to do this, remember, my son, that for all these things God will bring us into judgment. Wesley meant when he said the world is " like a siren. When sailors saw them and heard their singing, they were drawn by magic nearer and nearer to where they were, until at last their boats struck on the rocks, and the poor deluded sailors were dragged 22 The Story of John Wesley.
Now, do you see why the world is like a siren? Its pleasures all look so beautiful that we are tempted to draw nearer and nearer, until at last we are lost' to all that is holy and good. Jack a minister. John's long hair. Youne soldiers for Christ. It was in the year , when Jack was twenty-two years old, that he became a minister ; and just about this time he had a beautiful letter from his father. In it Air. Wesley said : — "God fit you for your great work.
Watch and pray; believe, love, endure, and be happy, towards which you shall never want the most ardent prayers of 11 Your affectionate father, "Samuel Wesley. Wesley was getting old, and as he had now two churches to look after, the one at Epworth and another at a place called Wroote, where he and Mrs. Wesley had gone to live, he was very glad when his son offered to go and help him. And now that Jack has grown up and got to be a proper minister, I think we must begin to call him Mr. Well, Mr. John stayed some time helping his father at Wroote and Epworth, and then went back again to Oxford, to study for a place in a college there — Lincoln College.
There were several others trying to get this same place, and they didn't like Mr. John because he would not do the wicked things they did, so they made great fun of him, and laughed at him for being good. Nobody likes being laughed at ; and Mr. John didn't, but he bore it bravely ; and his father comforted him when he wrote : " Never mind them, Jack ; he is a coward that cannot bear being laughed at. Jesus endured a great deal more for us, before He entered glory ; and unless we follow His steps we can never hope to share that glory with Him.
Bear it patiently, my boy, and be sure you never return evil for evil. So Mr.
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John worked hard, and bore his persecutions patiently — for Jesus sake ; and in spite of all his enemies he won the coveted place, and became Fellow of Lincoln College. Oh, how glad and thankful he The Story of John Wesley. And his father and mother were so proud and happy. It was just about this time that Mr. Wesley was afraid he would have to leave Wroote, and it was a great trouble to him. Though he was properly grown up, twenty-three years old, Mr. Wesley always thought of him as their " boy.
It doesn't matter how old their children grow to be, they love to think of them, and speak of them as their u boys " and " girls. Xo matter how tall, or how strong, or how clever you may grow, they will always love you with the same big love they did when you were little boys and girls. And, oh! Wesley had been longing to see her " boy " again, especially now that he had become Fellow of Lincoln College.
At last her wish was granted. There were a great many things that puzzled Jack which he wanted to ask his father and mother about. So he went and spent a long summer at home, getting his hard questions answered, and helping his father with the work that was now almost too much for 26 The Story of John Wesley. He had such a happy time that he was almost sorry when the autumn came and he had to return to Oxford. Being at school and college costs a great deal of money, and Jack knew that his father was not a rich man, and that he had hard work often to pay his college expenses.
Jack had been very sorry to be such a burden to his parents, and tried to be as careful as he could. Have you ever seen a picture of Mr. John Wesley? If you have, you will have noticed his long hair. Every one at Oxford wore their hair short ; but having it cut cost money, and John used to say : " I've no money to spend on hair- dressers. Now that he was Fellow of Lincoln College he received enough money to pay his own expenses, and it made him very happy to think he need no longer be an expense to his dear father.
But he resolved still to be as careful as he could, and never again to go into debt. When he went back to his new College, after spending the summer at home, he said to himself: " I will give up all the old friends who have so often tempted me to do things that a Christian ought not to do, and I will make new friends of those who will help me on my way to heaven. This made some of them sax- very unkind things about him ; but Mr.
John bore it all quietly, and never said unkind things back again. He felt he was only treacling the path Jesus had trod before him, the path which all His disciples must follow. John got to be so clever that soon he was made professor, or teacher of Greek.
Some boys and girls — yes, and grown-up people, too — become proud when they get to be clever, but Mr. John did not. He determined, more than ever, to be a faithful and humble follower of the Lord Jesus. He was very patient with his scholars, and tried not only to make them learned, but to make them Christians.
John went home again to help his father, who was getting very old, and was often ill. He stayed at Wroote about two years, and then went back again to Oxford. Charlie goes to Oxford. John, I am sure you would like to know how Charlie has been getting on all this long time. We left him, you remember, captain of the school at Westminster, where his eldest brother Samuel was a teacher.
He was so clever and brave, and such a generous, loving- hearted boy, that he was a favourite with everybody. He stayed nine years at Westminster, and then, when he was eighteen, went to one of the colleges at Oxford. It was not the one Mr. John was at, but, being in the same town, the two brothers often saw each other. John was very sorry for this, and spoke to him about it ; but Charlie became very angry at what he called his brother's interference, and said : " Do you want me to become a saint all at once? John was away at home those two years helping his father, Charlie changed very much.
He became steadier and more thoughtful, and even wrote to his brother, and asked for the advice he would not have before. It is owing, I believe, to somebody's prayers my mother's most likely that I am come to think as I do. Charlie's giddy companions soon saw something was wrong with him. He used to be lazy and shirk his studies, spending his time with them in pleasure and amusement, now he was diligent and worked hard.
The next thing they noticed was that he went to church regularly and took the Sacrament. And here I must tell you how he behaved towards these friends, and I know it will make you like Charlie more than ever. I told you before how loving and genial he was, 30 The Story of John Wesley.
He longed for his friends to become Christians, and talked to them so lovingly and so wisely that before very long he got two or three of them to join him in fighting against the evils of their nature, and encouraging and seeking after everything that was good. You have all read in your English history how good King Alfred the Great divided his time ; well, Charles and his companions divided theirs in a similar way. So many hours were spent in stud -, so many in prayer, and so many in sleeping and eating.
They made other strict rules for themselves, and lived so much by what we call "method," that at last they got to be called " Methodists. Most of the young men at Oxford thought religion and goodness were only things to make fun of, so Charles and his friends were a butt for their ridicule. Because they read their Bibles a great deal they called them " Bible Bigots," and " Bible Moths," and their meetings they called the " Holy Club.
Just think ; a nickname given to a few young men at Oxford, more than one hundred and fifty years ago, is now held in honour by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. The Christian band at Oxford. John and the little ragged g'rl. He was cleverer and had more experience than the others, and they all looked up to him for help and advice. Others joined the club, and soon there were twenty-five members.
Do you remember a verse in the Bible that, speaking of Jesus, says : " He went about doing good "? Well, these young men who were taking Jesus for their copy, just did the same ; all their spare time was spent in "doing good. Some taught the children in the workhouse, and some got leave to go The Story of John Wcshy. Very few of them were rich, but they denied themselves things they real!
Every night they used to have a meeting to talk over what they had done, and settle their work for the next day. John started a school for poor little children ; he paid a teacher to teach them, and bought clothes for the boys and girls whose parents could not afford to buy them.
Once a little girl from the school called to see Mr. It was a cold winter's day, and she was very poorly clad. John put his hand into his pocket, but, alas! Just then he caught sight of the pictures on the walls of his room, and he thought : " How can I allow these beautiful pictures to hang here while Christ's poor are starving? John was just as careful of his time as his money, he never wasted a moment.
He believed in the proverb you have often heard : "Early to bed and early to rise. John was always up before that little bird even awoke. Every morning when the clock struck four he jumped out of bed, and began his work. Wasn't that early? I wonder which of us would like to get up at that time? And he did not do this only when he was young, he did it all his life, even when he was an old, old man. I told you these "Methodists" made rules for themselves. One of them was to set apart special days for special prayer for their friends and pupils.
And another one which we all should copy was : Never to speak unkindly oe any one. The Bible was their Guide Book, and it told them, as it will tell us, all they ought to do, and all they ought not to do. Well, A long walk. John's illness.
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Wesley scolds. Wesley's opinion about fasting. Wesley's " Good-bye. Now find Oxford. The two places are a long way apart, are they not? John and Mr. Charles Wesley used often to walk all that long way to see a friend. You know there were no railways in those days, and to go by coach cost a great deal of money. Formats, materials. Bridgeman, Mary Owen, Edie Williams, Mrs Pitt p Womens Land Army courses at Rodbaston Hall inc Milking, poultry dressing, sowing seed, use of a scythe and care of pigs p Womens Land Army tractor maintenance class Rodbaston p Postwar students learning plough maintenance at Rodbaston p Sheep shearing contest p Hoeing contest; girls on a Sunday School trip to Cannock Chase at Hatherton p Garden scenes including a girl with a china doll p The grounds of Weston Park p Three chidren with a donkey; boy with a bicycle and four people in a donkey cart p Football match in Brewood ; Brewood football team p Boy Scouts in the church fields opposite Brewood Catholic Church c.
Giffard, the Earl of Bradford, Mr G. Bickford and Mr C. This document forms part of a catalogue Jump to document Jump to this document in the hierarchy Catalogue. Please sign in to your account. Jason Sweeney — Cillian Murphy. One of the deadliest of the Mexican crime syndicates is the Sinaloa Cartel. Controlled by two uber-ruthless brothers, La Navaja and his younger lieutenant, El Segundo, both of whom rose to prominence on a tide of extreme violence, the Sinas are renowned for the horrific punishments they will visit on anyone who displeases them.
From decapitation, to burning, to being drowned in barrels of rum, even the slightest infraction against their rock-solid rules can invoke the most draconian reprisals. Eddie almost goes crazy as he stands and watches while flotillas of Sinaloan underbosses and their sexy consorts come and go, carousing all night and indulging in swimming pool parties that turn into orgies. He is particularly agonised when he sets eyes on the beautiful Miranda, who seems aloof from the other girls, and on the few occasions when he makes eye-contact with her, proves to be friendlier than most.
In due course, he contrives to introduce himself to Miranda. In the ensuing fight — because Eddie has no choice but to fight — the Sinaloan No. Needless to say, they are wrong, and pretty soon the full wrath of the Sinas is unleashed in pursuit, including the lethal bounty-hunter, El Martillo, and his sidekick, El Pico, a top-notch tracker and incurable bar-room philosopher. The odds are stacked against Eddie and Miranda, who from the get-go travel with a fatalistic air, as if it will only be a matter of time before they are snared. However, they do have one advantage. Eddie is related to the Wolfe clan, a smaller crime syndicate, whose main gig is weapons-smuggling, and who are transnational in nature, which means they contain both Mexican and American personnel, and their activities straddle the Border.
They might be less professional than El Martillo and El Pico, but they too are good at what they do. But the Wolfes have strict rules too, not least that when one of theirs is in trouble, they bring him safely home …. There is no doubt that the Mexican crime cartels are among the most frightening in the modern world. It may be a tad insensitive to put it in those terms, but they really are. As monstrous opponents go in crime fiction, the Mexican cartels are a genuinely terrifying presence even on the written page.
And it is this which provides the concrete base for this searingly intense piece of border noir. The hardships that befall them know no end: dust storms, heat, thirst, highway robbers, corrupt cops. Miranda transforms from seductive beauty into exhausted roadside wastrel. And yet still they press on, looking out for each other, sharing a quick kiss on those few occasions when they get the chance. In essence, they too are syndicate operatives, but though they regularly do business with Mexican mobsters, their trade is in guns rather than drugs or people.
They keep it low key, but they have their own rules and their own family loyalties — as embodied by Wolfe clan matriarch, Aunt Catalina, who is vividly portrayed by Blake despite making only a couple of appearances. They go about it in workmanlike fashion, dealing professionally with each situation some of which are pretty visceral, so be warned! Blake rattles the action scenes at us like machine-gun bullets, working each violent encounter tirelessly to create non-stop tension and fear.
Here are my picks:. In the dusty southwest Texas town of Chapala Crossing, nine young Thai women, prostitutes by trade but double-hatting as drugs mules, are smuggled across the Mexican border and then machine-gunned to death, their mangled corpses bulldozed into the ground behind an abandoned clapboard church. One of those participating in the atrocity is scar-faced Iraq veteran and full-time loser, Pete Flores — but Pete genuinely thought this would be nothing more than an illegal immigration job and is so horrified when the shooting starts that he flees town, taking level-headed bar-singer girlfriend, Vicki Gaddis, with him.
Meanwhile, the corpses are uncovered by veteran lawman, Sheriff Hackberry Holland. Despite all this, aided by his attractive and spirited deputy, Pam Tibbs, hindered by the aggressive and bullish immigration official, Isaac Clawson , and unsure whether or not to trust his semi-indifferent FBI contact, Ethan Riser, Hack slowly starts to make ground on the case. He forms a theory that the trafficked women were hijacked by someone whose main interest was the balloons of heroin in their bellies — and in the process uncovers a nest of viper-like criminality in this quiet, isolated place were previously nothing ever happened.
The problems for Chapala Crossing really began in , it seems, when Hurricane Katrina swept a whole host of organised crime figures westward out of New Orleans. Not much further down the scale of evil comes rival and big-time Galveston pimp, Artie Rooney, who could easily have organised the hijack, and his hardcase enforcer, Hugo Cistranos. Dolan is less obviously a gangster; he even has a characterful and law-abiding wife, Esther. Dolan feels like a classic fall-guy to him.
Collins is a particularly difficult guy to deal with, even for those who are supposedly on his side; though he appears sane, he follows his own obscure rules, and there are times when almost any comment — no matter how innocent — may be taken by him as a provocation. Meanwhile, Flores and Gaddis remain on the run, moving from one so-called safe place to the next, but Jack Collins and his crew are only ever a couple of steps behind. There have been plenty of killings up to this point; the badlands of South Texas have surely never seemed badder or bloodier than this hence perhaps, several references to the nearby Alamo!
Despite this, comparisons between Hack — who now features in three novels, this being the second — and Robicheaux are going to be inevitable, though this is mainly in terms of the central character. Robicheaux is also an alcoholic loner cop with a hell-raising background. In addition, the two cops share a similar laconic air, and are often lost in introspective musings. But judge for yourself; check out this early, scene-setting paragraph at Chapala Crossing:.
On the burnt-out end of a July day in Southwest Texas, in a crossroads community whose only economic importance had depended on its relationship to a roach paste factory the EPA had shut down twenty years before, a young man driving a car without window glass stopped by an abandoned blue-and-white stucco filling station that had once sold Pure gas during the Depression and was now home to bats and clusters of tumbleweed. At the intersection a stoplight hung from a horizontal cable strung between two power poles, its plastic covers shot out by.
Character-wise, Burke does his usual amazing job, presenting us with a tough but vulnerable hero. Hackberry Holland is your archetypal seen-it-all oldster, a veteran peace-officer whose been in the job almost as long as he can remember and never seems to be off-duty. Underlying all this, of course, is sorrow and regret for the many errors and losses of his past.
He might be a septuagenarian, but Hack is still damaged goods, someone you might in real life find a little bit scary but at the same time someone you can root for. Pam Tibbs is a perfect foil. Younger than Hack, but not a young woman, she too has been around, done it, seen it, etc. The atmosphere between these two literally crackles. Nick Dolan is a perfect example. He genuinely loves his family, and for their sake wants to start going straight. At the opposite end of the hoodlum spectrum sits Josef Sholokoff.
To a certain extent in crime fiction, Russian mobsters are the villains of the moment. His role primarily is to be the elemental force, the dark storm in the distance. And what a personality it is. His oblique attitude has evolved over many years of involvement in violence and bloodshed.
His daily reasoning is often impossible to penetrate. Everything is so visible; you can smell it, you can feel it, you can see it. James Lee Burke is widely regarded as a literary lodestone, and with very good reason. Only a bit of fun, of course — who would listen to me even though I think all of these actors would be superb in the respective roles? It would be an expensive production, mind you. But then, as I always say, I have the advantage of a limitless budget. So, here we go:. Of course, Simon, agog with excitement that someone will finally pay him to do what he loves, brushes all this aside in his quest to find a suitable topic for the new book, settling on the career of one Tubby Thackeray, a British music hall clown turned Hollywood silent era comedian, who eventually was blacklisted because his brand of slapstick was so demented that public order situations arose whenever he appeared some viewers were even said to have lost their minds.
Those who allegedly know about Tubby seem reluctant to talk, and the few bits of written information he can find are located at obscure, antiquarian-type events, where he has to leaf through piles of dead newspapers and deal with increasingly strange personalities. From the moment, Simon starts looking into Tubby Thackeray, curious events occur. Any useful intel he finds on the internet seems to change from one viewing to the next. He constantly hears deranged cackling from behind apartment doors or on the other sides of bookstacks.
In the corners of his vision, he glimpses creepy, grinning, clown-like men, who seem to find his every move — and especially his mistakes — hilarious. When he finally locates some real footage of Tubby, he thinks it radical and inventive for the time, but also dark and disturbing. Was Thackeray really doing comedy, or something much more sinister? Meanwhile, there are other distractions.
At the same time, the people he meets in real life are no less easy to deal with. Bolshy Manchester man, Charlie Tracy, appears well informed about Tubby Thackeray, but is an awkward and suspicious individual, who no one would want to rely on unless they had to. All this time, meanwhile, Christmas is coming, and Simon feels that a visit home may be necessary, especially when he learns that his native Preston, in Lancashire, once played host to a famous music hall incident, when Tubby Thackeray roused the crowd to much more than laughter.
And all the while, that background strangeness intensifies, the hapless Simon shifting through altered states as he determinedly tries to ignore the phantoms dogging him during his quest to fully expose Tubby Thackeray, a comic genius and an apparent prince of chaos …. Not that Campbell is overly subtle.
Make no mistake, there is a real horror at the heart of this tale, and it leaks out through the pores as you work your way along. Much of it is intensely psychological, even though there is no question that we are dealing with supernatural forces, and malevolent ones at that. But in addition to these lesser but ongoing tortures, we are also plunged into some epic scare situations, including a head-trip sequence in a run-down circus in the heart of wintry London, and most terrifyingly of all — and this scene is Ramsey Campbell at his very best!
For example, a straightforward presentation that Simon makes to a Tubby Thackeray fan-club becomes a nightmarish ordeal. Likewise, his journey to California to interview the hedonistic Wilhemina Hart, which seems to crash head-on into a follow-up trip to Amsterdam, is a triumph of drug and porn-induced disorientation.
Campbell also makes excellent use of a very new kind of monster, the internet troll. Not every reviewer has favoured this aspect of the novel, calling it unnecessary and protracted, but for me it works perfectly. Needless to say, on those few occasions when we do see him, he is a demon lord, seeming to combine every strange and menacing aspect of those heavily made-up, wildly gesticulating comics of the gaslight age, performing antics so outlandish that you can easily imagine it having a damaging effect on audiences not used to such onscreen anarchy. Ramsey Campbell has a unique style.
He conceals clues which, if you miss them the first time around, may mean that you have to roll back a few chapters to check again. All their manifestations are connected to that golden age of comedy, and, once again, to those extreme and harrowing lengths so many silent era practitioners went to in order to immortalise themselves. A skilled and intelligent writer, he has the ability to lay out deep, macabre mysteries and to invoke genuine chills from the most everyday situations, plucking at nerves we scarcely knew we had, all the while shedding barely a drop of blood.
Consultant behavioural science profiler, Jefferson Winter, has a unique insight into the minds of serial killers … mainly because he himself was fathered by one. When young Jefferson watched his evil genius parent die by lethal injection, he had no idea that his path in life was set. An unknown maniac has been abducting women, shaving their heads, torturing them at his leisure and then lobotomising them, releasing them back onto the streets as wandering relics of the people they once were: broken dolls with no lives left to call their own.
There are four victims to date — a quartet of truly tragic cases. Obviously none of them are able to help with the details of their abductor. But then another woman goes missing; attractive but bored housewife, Rachel Morris, who disappeared on a blind date with a strange personality she encountered online. This certainly interests Winter, but whether it will prove to be a help or a hindrance remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Rachel Morris finds herself imprisoned in a purpose-built torture chamber.
In any case, it all works. Quantico was the birthplace of modern-day offender profiling, and the FBI are still recognised as world-leaders in the field, so in that regard nothing jars for me. Plus, as I intimated previously, the approach in this novel is all quite original. Instead of seeing doors kicked down, suspects leaned on and forensic clues painstakingly gathered, we see Winter dashing around at breakneck pace but also constructing a gradual and detailed psychological portrait of his anonymous opponent.
The author has clearly done his research here — it all feels very authentic as he slowly and convincingly gets into the mind of his demented antagonist. Jefferson Winter is an unusual kind of good guy. But there are oddities too. He particularly lusts after Sophie Templeton, though thankfully keeps most of that in check.
But I disagree with that. However, his horrific start in life has affected him in other ways too. Winter is good enough at what he does to make a lucrative living as he hires himself out to one police force after another, yet deep down he is still frightened and uneasy about the state of his own mind, and his Sam Spade-esque bravado is primarily a disguise. He is nowhere near as self-assured as he may appear. Put it this way, there are surprises galore in this narrative, and very few of them are nice.
Jefferson Winter — Damien Lewis. Rachel Morris — Katy Cavanagh. Donald Cole — Ray Winston. Now is definitely not the ideal time for ex-NYPD cop and Maine-based private eye, Charlie Parker, to find himself embroiled in family-related legal matters, though I suppose there is never a good time for this kind of sadness. At the same time, he finds himself dragged into a particularly mystifying investigation, when his ever-secretive FBI handler, Edgar Ross, puts him on the trail of another PI, Jaycob Eklund, who dropped out of sight while looking into a series of historic murders and disappearances which have occurred all over the US.
Distracted by these big problems at home, but with his usual thorough professionalism, and assisted by ex-mob associates, Louis and Angel, Parker gets on the case, and almost immediately makes an unusual discovery — all the unsolved crimes that Eklund was investigating appear to be connected to reported hauntings. Either way, the Brethren not only still survive in American society today — secretly but murderously, as exemplified by the deadly and incestuous Kirk and Sally Buckner, whose phoney suburban lifestyle masks a truly venomous reality — but also on the ethereal plane, where their tortured spirits remain a real force to be reckoned with, and where they have used their psychic energies to zone in on Parker as a potential threat to their existence.
While all this is going on, Parker meets a pair of more earthly foes in the shape of Mother, the weird but scary matriarch of a declining New England crime family, and her odious son, Philip, who are also determinedly investigating the case and keen to know everything the PI knows. And yet, for all these light-hearted undercurrents, and despite the presence of beings from beyond —which in this one includes some real in-yer-face horrors just wait till the finale! Various kinds of human barbarity are on show here, or at least are referred to.
Of course, such starkness hugely underscores the heroism of Parker and his trusty sidekicks, Angel and Louis, all three of whom, despite their many flaws the latter two comprising a former hit-man and a thief , fearlessly tread these paths in their ongoing war against evil. It leaves you rooting for him more than ever, obviously, but the author handles these sequences with great pathos, never once straying into schmaltz.
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Connolly is on equally great form when it comes to the secondary characters, especially the villains, who come in all shapes and sizes, though I do think that Mother and Philip, a demonic duo of heirs-apparent to a once-successful but now failing crime faction, are particularly abhorrent.
But all this makes for a wonderful page-turner of a book. That may be a big ask, but hey! Charlie Parker — Hugh Jackman surely looking for a new introspective hard-man role now that Logan is finished. The debut collection of stories from a highly accomplished novelist, journalist and essay writer, who previously has written profoundly and entertainingly about animals and the countryside, but also about music and sport. James and E. Railway tunnels, the lanes and hills of the Peak District, family homes, old stones, shreds fluttering on barbed wire, night drawing in, something that might be an animal shifting on the other side of a hedge: Tom has drawn on his life-long love of weird fiction, folklore and nature s unregarded corners to write a collection of stories that will delight fans old and new and leave them very uneasy about turning the reading lamp off.
Both comprise top quality wordsmithery by Cox, though the first tale is almost experimental in terms of its narrative style, while the second is a detailed and very lyrical study of the natural environment of the English woodlands rather than an actual scary story. Again, more about these two later. I reiterate, however, that Tom Cox is a fine writer.
Folk-horror is a subgenre of supernatural fiction already well populated by established masters and mistresses of the form — Reggie Oliver, Steve Duffy, Helen Grant, Adam Nevill, Sarah Singleton, to name but a few — and that would be stiff competition for anyone. So, go on … grab a copy, yourself, and see what you think.
There is a bit of something here for everyone. And now …. Just a bit of fun, this. Note: these four stories are NOT the ones I necessarily consider to be the best in the book, but they are the four I perceive as most filmic and most right for a compendium horror.
Of course, no such horror film can happen without a central thread, and this is where you guys, the audience, come in. Just accept that four strangers have been thrown together in unusual circumstances which require them to relate spooky stories. Without further messing about, here are the stories and the casts I would choose:.
Just Good Friends : Helen, a beautiful something, is unlucky in love until she meets the gentle, enigmatic Peter, who she is strongly attracted to despite their relationship remaining platonic. Unnerved by such weirdness, Helen breaks the relationship off and gets a new boyfriend, only to develop an urge to return to her native Cornwall to see her ailing mother, Alice, and investigate the mysterious old seaside house that she increasingly remembers from childhood ….
Helen — Claire Foy. Peter — William Moseley. Listings : The story of a bad place on the edge of the Somerset marshes. A human habitation, but a spot where various houses, pubs and the like have all been troubled by a mysterious, malevolent entity who may or may not be Tunk, the fearsome, sheep-headed goblin of local West Country myth ….
The Pool : A scenic woodland pool with a mysterious, anonymous something lurking in its opaque depths exerts a subtle evil influence over all those who venture near it, no matter how fun-loving they are or innocent their motives. Help the Witch : Jeff, an academic on the run from an irrevocably broken relationship, heads north into the Derbyshire Peaks, where he takes a primitive cottage high on a valley edge just in time to get snowed in by a terrible winter.
It is probably not the best time to discover that the cottage is haunted by a spirit still lingering after the ghastly carnage of the plague era …. Jeff — Ben Whishaw. Catherine voice only — Lena Headey. However, even Poe can go too far sometimes, and he is currently suspended and basically disgraced after acting on principle in a previous investigation rather than following procedure, the pending outcome of which may see him discharged from the police force altogether. Realising he has no option but to get involved, Poe accepts reinstatement into the NCA even though not all of its top brass approve , and even takes a demotion in rank from DI to DS though this latter is because Poe rarely works within the normal structures of high-level police investigations anyway, usually preferring to develop his own leads and run them down under his own steam.
Straight away, however, he finds himself up to his neck in unforseen complexity. To start with, this is no ordinary serial murder case. There is more than just cruelty and sadism on show; ritual elements are in evidence too, while the offender is highly organised and efficient. Given that the most recent victim was a local councillor, Michael James, there may even be a political dimension. And this, of course, can only be a good thing, because the Immolation Man is clearly not going to stop killing. Needless to say, the deeper the twosome dig into the case, the more horrible revelations they uncover, the more extensive the apparent conspiracy at the root of it, and the closer and closer to home the enquiry seems to bring them ….
First of all, its setting is marvellously realised. Bleak, rugged locations are not uncommon in crime fiction, especially since the arrival of the Nordic Noir subgenre, but the Lake District, while rugged, is not bleak.
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This is a cop-thriller first and foremost, and yet Lakeland is always there, an extra character, if you like, but an important one too. And he really does. In this novel, though the Lake District is a remote region, modern policing is to the fore. This is the National Crime Agency after all, possibly the most modern outfit, in every sense of the word, in the whole of the British police service.
All the procedures are there, all the latest methods and the brand-new technical back-up are duly referenced, but none of it gets in the way. In fact, if anything, through the proxy of Washington Poe, Craven vents his frustration at this. He particularly despises the kind of bureaucratic red tape that prohibits officers from exercising judgement and discretion. On one hand you have the super-efficient, super hi-tech and yet hidebound world of the National Crime Agency, as exemplified by patrician Director Edward van Zyl and even more so by Deputy Director Justin Hanson.
I say it again, Mike Craven was a probation officer, not a cop, but he clearly worked with the cops. Because from this debut novel, he knows his stuff inside-out. And this, I guess, brings us neatly to the characters, which are the third aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed. There are two main personalities here, Poe and Bradshaw, and what a unique pairing they are. Because while Poe is the primal creature, the elemental force, the instinct-over-analysis, Tilly Bradshaw is the cerebral side of the equation.
And together, they make a near-perfect whole. But Bradshaw has her own personality, too, and it was a fascinating decision by the author to place at the heart of a story like this, which has the potential to be hugely distressing to the readers, yes, but also to the characters in the tale, particularly those with some political acumen , a character who is introverted and overly sensitive, who is untrusing of others, has very little self-awareness and is even slightly autistic.
Far from it. Bradshaw does not need that. She is incredibly smart, possessing great deductive powers, and is very computer-literate. In the modern age of policing, these are vital assets. In purely technical terms, of course, this is a clever device by Craven. In future books, I can easily envisage Poe coming to rely heavily on Bradshaw, not just as his quick hook-up to the internet and personal mine of information, but also as his thinker and adviser.
Overall, this novel is a long way from being your average serial killer thriller. It needs to sit on each and every bookshelf. You never now, at some point, some producer or casting director may take heed of this column. Anyway, just for laughts, here we go:. Tilly Bradshaw — Ella Purnell. Hanson — Adrian Rawlins. Make no mistake, the events that follow comprise pure horror — for all sorts of reasons.
Never has the terror of deep sea exploration been as fully and vividly realised as it is here. Nick Cutter takes us down through untold lightless fathoms to a realm that is alien in every sense of the word; an environment where oxygen itself turns toxic, where the tiniest chink in the hull could create an incoming jet of water so intense it will slice a man in half, and yet where native creatures exist that have no place in any sane creation.
With Hell triumphant on the outside, on the inside of the claustrophobic sea-base the foulness and disarray is horrendous; the sense of besiegement under millions of tonnes of crushing black water is overpowering. A sentient something that will play catastrophic havoc with human minds, not to mention their anatomy, purely for reasons of its own fascination. To say more about this would be a real spoiler, but put it this way, there are some occasions when wickedness knows no bounds — quite literally; neither intellectual, spiritual, nor even physical.
There are points in this novel where you must be prepared to be very disgusted indeed. At the same time, Luke Nelson, a likeable hero in every possible way, is no more than an everyman. He has no skills of his own that he can bring to bear in this demonic zone, no specialist knowledge. His battle-scarred military sidekick, Lieutenant Alice Sykes, aside from being a submersible pilot, is in a similar position.
The desperate twosome find themselves completely at the mercy of forces beyond their imagining, and yet somehow they must not just endure, but must save the world with their actions. This an amazing piece of fiction. An oceanic horror classic. Widely esteemed editor, Ellen Datlow, the creator of innumerable top-class horror anthologies, finally turns her informed gaze to the ocean.
The result is this hugely imaginative and varied collection of chilling tales set around and beneath the sea. Stranded on a desert island, a young man yearns for objects from his past. A local from a small coastal town in England is found dead as the tide goes out. A Norwegian whaling ship is stranded in the Arctic, its crew threatened by mysterious forces. In the nineteenth century, a ship drifts in becalmed waters in the Indian Ocean, those on it haunted by their evil deeds.
A surfer turned diver discovers there are things worse than drowning under the sea. Something from the sea is creating monsters on land. In The Devil and the Deep, award-winning editor Ellen Datlow shares an all-original anthology of horror that covers the depths of the deep blue sea, with brand new stories from New York Times bestsellers and award-winning authors such as Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, and more.
I sail it whenever I can, I poke around its edges, I delve beneath the surface. Its legends, of course, are utterly fascinating, not to mention chilling. Even without them, it would be easy to imagine unspeakable horrors lurking in the fathomless gloom of the deep. No wonder the ocean has hit us with so many tales of ghosts, monsters, mermaids, lost cities, sunken wrecks. With all that in mind, how could I resist this particular anthology, especially as it had been put together by one of my favourite editors?
In so many ways, yes.
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Ellen Datlow is a horror editor of eclectic tastes. I think it could be argued that not all the stories are essentially connected to the sea. All that said, this antho is not entirely po-faced and deadly serious. At the same time, other stories lean more towards the traditional. There are ghosts too, of a sort. But is there much in the way of real terror to be found here? Is this anthology deserving of the horror shelf? Well … horror is often in the eye of the beholder when it comes to fiction. Just a bit of fun, this part.
At the same time, a series of globsters, hideous lumps of rotting flesh, float inshore, infecting people with a bizarre virus, which causes them first to dance and then to march down to the sea, where a ghastly date with destiny awaits them …. They appear to resemble Gail, and have clearly been created deep under the waves ….
But when she finds a curiously-marked stone in his empty boat and has its oceanic spiral pattern tattooed on her flesh as a memento, she becomes an object of weird unexplained fascination to all around her. Birds, animals, people, fishes. Even the dead …. When adulterous businessman, Phil Sobel, and his married mistress, Tracey, embark on a secret boat trip to the Caribbean, they anticipate it will be the holiday of a lifetime. But they have no concept of the horrors ahead. Everything seems perfect. Captain Jack is a slightly odd fish — a bit distant, a bit philosophical, and he plays up outrageously to his self-image as a salty seadog.
In addition, the further they draw from land, the more their relationship with their hosts subtly changes. But in a short time, Phil and Tracey are being treated less like paying customers on the boat and more like employees, and underpaid, ill-treated employees at that. This book is also a masterclass in the creation of understated villainy. Likewise, baddies who scream abuse as they brutalise, or baddies who cackle insanely.
Nontheless, this is terrorising ordeal for the hapless victims caught up in it. How frail we ordinary humans sometimes are when confronted by monsters of the realistic variety. How weak we appear when straying only a few nautical miles from our orderly world and finding ourselves in the realm of savages …. Phil Sobel — John Hamm. Tracey Hansen — Holliday Grainger. Jack McCracken — Iain Glen. Dick The world of or in later reprints is a nightmare of ruined cities and desolate wildernesses.
In the wake of World War Terminus, Earth has largely been depopulated. A parody of the human consumer lifestyle continues, those remaining working normal jobs though very few of these are high-powered , living in apartment buildings which otherwise are largely empty and watching television even though there is only one channel, run by the megalomaniac oddball, Buster Friendly.
His wife, Iran, is more depressed than most — so much so that she can barely even rise in the morning, while Deckard himself struggles with his conscience. Increasingly Deckard finds it difficult to retire these thinking, reasoning beings, though he does agree that they lack the all-important empathy, which means they have no concept of human kindness, even if they are increasingly adept at concealing this. Despite his doubts, Deckard is good at his job and earns decent money. One day he hopes to be able to dispense with his pet electric sheep, and buy a real animal.
Because one other aspect of the tragicomic existence mankind has descended into is that, with animals so rare, their ownership has now become a status symbol. Anyone who is anyone owns an animal of some sort, and zealously shows it off, though only at immense cost. Their leader is the ruthlessly intelligent Roy Baty, who, unable to stand his servile status any longer, has led a miniature rebellion on Mars, which has cost several human lives.
If Deckard can retire all six, it will earn him a fortune. To start with, enquiries at the central offices of the Rosen Association in Seattle, the corporation responsible for manufacture of the androids, brings him into contact with the alluring Rachael Rosen, whom he finds incredibly attractive — only for him to apply the empathy test to her, and discover that she too is an andy, which confuses him even more with his chosen role.
Meanwhile, the fugitive Nexus-6 have been blending in on Earth. At the same time, several of those Deckard has targeted, Roy Baty included, are given refuge by the deluded chickenhead, John Isidore, who is both in awe of their perfection and terrified of their heartlessness. Despite being one herself, Rachael expresses a conviction that there is no place for the Nexus-6 on Earth. But Deckard has been an investigator for a long time, and even though he eventually falls into bed with her — because she is the ultimate femme fatale! In truth, there are significant differences between the two narratives, though overall, the subtexts themselves are not hugely dissimilar.
The late Philip K. Even off-world in the colonies, we are told that things are only marginally better.