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Preview: Dust & Corruption

Dust & Corruption

Reviews of horror and mystery fiction, reflections on the genre, occasional discussions of movies or the like, and various meanderings on other topics.

Updated: 2018-01-19T07:40:00.341-05:00


PANIC by Helen McCloy


Alison is afraid. Her uncle Felix has died mysteriously. WWII is in full swing and he was doing some confidential work for the War Department. She's taking off for an isolated country house to spend some time alone....but every time she turns around there's another eccentric or creepy neighbor showing up, making threatening remarks. What's going on? Published in 1944, Panic is one of the few

January in the Phantom Recital Hall!


We're finally starting to come out of the dire cold that's been keeping us inside and huddling under blankets since Christmas, and a friend told us about a performance going on at the why not dress up a little, put on our warm coats, and hear some music? It's a program of mostly new works, and this piece by Nils Frahm isn't exactly sinister, but it's appropriate for January...

SILENT NIGHTS, edited by Martin Edwards


I stumbled across this at the library just before the holidays, and it was a natural. Perfect reading material for the break! And boy, was it ever. This is another superior collection from British Library Crime Classics, so you can't go wrong. Author/scholar Edwards is a great anthologist and digs up all sorts of good and obscure stories for his collections. There are some that are familiar,



Anthony Monday and Miss Eells are back! And battling the supernatural! The two are whiling away a summer afternoon by driving through the Wisconsin countryside, when Miss Eells has the inspiration to explore the abandoned Weatherend estate, once home to industrialist J. K. Borkman. In a shed they find some bizarre statues that refer to weather phenomena, and then realize the estate is now



I'm really starting to kick myself for not having plunged into Kim Newman's works earlier. I read Anno-Dracula back in the 90s and enjoyed it, but never picked up the sequels or anything else by him. Now, after sampling some of his work, I'm making up for lost time. The Secrets of Drearcliff School (2015) is set vaguely in the 20s, and centers on Amy Thomsett, a young girl with a strange gift;

FOURTH DEGREE, by K. S. Daiger


Here's a rarity for you; I just happened to come across a mention of this author in Jess Nevin's Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes and decided to track them down. K. S. Daiger was a local author, and I came across a reference to K. S. being a woman, but am otherwise unable to find much biographical information. Fourth Degree, published in 1931, opens in the wealthy and bucolic suburb of Towson,

A Phantom Solo for December!


Visiting Ramsey at his new place is always an adventure; his house is in a neighborhood that's slowly being revived, and while his place is in wonderful shape, the place next door is a ramshackle wreck, uninhabited for years. We're gathered there for a pre-holiday get-together, all of dreading the horrors of the season ahead (crowded stores, monotonous music, brutally enforced cheer), when



And we're back to Bellairs! This time we'll take on his shortest series, the Anthony Monday novels. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn is set in the 1950s in the fictional town of Hoosac, MN, along the Mississippi River. Anthony is a more-or-less "normal" teen (a rarity for Bellairs) who comes from a lower-middle-class family. His father operates a saloon (euphemistically called a "cigar store

November in the Phantom Recital Hall


Tonight we're off in the cold evening air to a recital by a talented pianist, on a tour through the country. The venue is a new one, an addition at the university, so we're getting a gander at the new facility and enjoying some good music. And appropriate for the season, one piece is Bolcom's "The Poltergeist." I love this playful piece, with sinister hints; it's a good representation of

Happy Halloween 2017!


Hope everyone is having a great Halloween! Be safe, but be crazy! At least a little crazy. Or be as low-key as you want. Just honor the day!

DOWN BY THE OLD BLOODSTREAM, "edited" by Alfred Hitchcock


In the 1960s and '70s, Alfred Hitchcock's name was attached to countless anthologies. I doubt he truly edited them; he worked hand-in-glove with former radio writer Robert Arthur who I suspect is probably responsible. Arthur also wrote a good number of the "Three Investigators" boys' series that featured Hitch as a sort of "M" to a trio of teen sleuths. Down by the Old Bloodstream, published

An October Night at the Cinema!


In October it's nice to take a break from all the Halloween festivities and just relax. We're doing that right now, having a nice time chatting over dinner. It's a blessing to have a chance to breathe and not worry about planning parties and costumes and the like. Next year, we promise, there'll be a more relaxed holiday... After dinner is over, we head up the street to our favorite old

GOLD BY GEMINI by Jonathan Gash


Lovejoy, the antiques-dealing detective, is back in his second mystery! I had a slight sense that Gash wasn't sure about if a series would take off, so the first, The Judas Pair, may have been intended as a one-off with room for expansion. And, well, it seems to have expanded. Lovejoy's world is a bit more fleshed out, with more friends, girlfriends, and an apprentice we never heard about the

October at the Phantom Jazz Club


It's about time we got out of the concert halls and did something different! This month we're checking out a club that we've walked by a dozen times before, but never ventured inside. That is being changed, and we're glad for it. So of course, the band plays something appropriate for the season.... Hope everyone has a magical October! Mine so far....well, it's been a hot damp one here in

QUIET AS A NUN by Antonia Fraser


I'd read this many, many years ago, and recently I felt an urge to revsiit Fraser's series ,so here we are. Quiet as a Nun is Antonia Fraser's first mystery; she was already noted for historical biographies so this was something of a departure for her. Her character (and narrator, for this book only) is Jemima Shore, an investigative TV reporter who stumbles into murder and mystery and uses

A September Afternoon at the Cinema!


Taking advantage of a lull in our schedules, we meet for brunch on a sultry September Sunday. Why is it so hot when the first day of autumn has just passed? We lament our busy lives, the state of the world, and the fact that Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year. Then it's up the street to our favorite movie theater! Thankfully the AC is working, the drinks at the counter are cold, and the

THE BISHOP OF HELL by Marjorie Bowen


Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952, real name: Gabrielle Margaret Vere Long) is someone who has fascinated me for a long time. She was a writer by necessity, supporting her increasingly ungrateful and demanding family (although her children adored her; her youngest son, who wrote the charming introduction, speaks of her was a wonderful, loving mother). She wrote under numerous pen names....historical

A Phantom Serenade for September


September has arrived, bringing what feels like an early autumn. Temperatures have been cool, sometimes downright chilly, and we go about our rounds bringing along light sweaters and jackets, and pausing for warm drinks in the afternoon. A pause for a snack brings a rare opportunity for a serenade by an accomplished violinist... Lovely, eh? This is part of Hope's album "For Seasons,"

An August Afternoon at the Cinema!


Summer is slowly sliding into autumn, and August has been gentler and easier than July was. While the sun is bright and warm, the breezes are cool while we sit at a sidewalk table outside our usual restaurant, enjoying an afternoon meal, and trading tales of things we've done since last assembling, and of our hopes for the autumn ahead. After splitting the bill, we walk up the street to that

WALK OUT ON DEATH by Charlotte Armstrong


I've been wanting to read some Charlotte Armstrong for a while, after reading some good things about her work. This was the first I picked up....and I wasn't too thrilled by it. Walk Out on Death (originally titled Catch-As-Catch-Can) isn't much of a mystery, but a thriller in which a series of circumstances lead to a perilous situation. It opens with a fairly silly situation: world traveler

An August Evening at the Phantom Tavern...


It's an unexpectedly cool night in early August; normally we should feel like we're imprisoned in a celestial Crock Pot, but it's actually breezy and autumnal. No big concerts or anything, so tonight we wander out for a drink at a place we haven't been to before; it's an old, slightly ramshackle place, but the drinks are good, the prices reasonable, and they feature some good music. Tonight,

PROMISE NOT TO TELL by Jennifer McMahon


Promise Not To Tell was a something I'd had recommended to me somewhere (I forget where), and on a recent library run I checked it out. I'm pretty glad I did. Kate Cypher, divorced, a 41-year-old school nurse, has flown from her job in Seattle to her mother's home in Vermont. Mom has Alzheimer's, and is steadily getting worse; Kate has to arrange a new living situation for her. But the day she

A Hot July Afternoon at the Movies!


A light lunch at our usual place is in the cards today; it's brutally hot and humid, and rather than engage in other weekend activities, we're opting for something inside. While we're happy to be together, the heat robs us of our appetites, and after a light nibble we head up the street (staying in the shade as much as possible) until we get to our favorite old theater...thankfully with new

ASYLUM by Patrick McGrath


I've never read Patrick McGrath, but after coming across several mentions praising his ability with the Gothic, I decided to check him out. After all, I've reviewed some of the original Gothics, so I might as well review some modern Gothics as well. Asylum's timeframe seems to be in the 50s or early 60s, and takes the form of an extended narrative by psychiatrist Peter Cleave, who is

Phantom Fireworks!


It's Independence Day, and we're enjoying an outdoor concert leading up to a fireworks display. The heat and humidity have let up a bit so we can enjoy being outside, and the orchestra is in fine form. Sure, there's lots to be unhappy about in the current climate, but we meet some local candidates who seem to be sincere about making a difference, have a good meal, listen to some good music....