Thursday 23 January 2020

Death on the Arkham Express by Byron Craft - review

This is my review of Death on the Arkham Express which will appear in the next issue of Phantasmagoria, issue 14.

Book 5 of The Arkham Detective Series
Byron Craft

A Lovecraftian story written relentlessly in the style of a pulp fiction hard-boiled detective novel straight from the pulps, Death on the Arkham Express is the Cthulhu Mythos as I have never seen it before.
On his way home from New York aboard the Arkham Express, the “Arkham Detective”, as tough a detective as you could find within the pages of any pulp novel, is soon thrown into a violently bloody mystery, which takes passengers and crew one by one till the horrific climax.
Not letting the grass grow under his feet, by page three we have our first murder on the passenger train: “Blood contains iron, and the metallic smell was extremely strong when I entered. The red painted cookery reeked of the odor. A crimson body fluid spray marred the narrow galley layout of gloss white walls. Staring at me was my waiter. His head lay grotesquely upon a stainless-steel counter. The features were twisted and torn and mangled. His dead black eyes conveyed a combination of terror and revulsion…” And this is just a foretaste of the horrors to come.
Bryron Craft manages to sustain the hard-boiled detective style with admirable glee in a tale that I doubt Lovecraft would have ever imagined, whilst sticking pretty damn close to the mythology. Fast-paced, racy, with nary a quarter given to PC niceties, this is an enjoyable jaunt that gives the Cthulhu Mythos a good old Spillane type kicking with the tongue firmly, but somehow respectfully tucked in the cheek, and at only 75 pages far from outlives its spirited welcome.
The great artwork on the cover is by Marko Serafimovic. 

Besides my book review, issue 14 will also include one of my stories (Terror on the Moors) plus some artwork.