Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard
Hardcover, 306 pages

Published October 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books

Lovecraftian fiction is tricky. In some ways I enjoy well done Mythos stuff better than the writings of HPL himself. However the growth of the mythos genre has seen dozens of Cthulhu themed anthologies getting released yearly and most of them are pretty bad. Mindless rehashes of Lovecraft style and tropes with out much creative juice to float them.

I admit I would not have even considered this book if it didn't have back cover blurbs from two authors I trust (F.Paul Wilson and Stephen Graham Jones). I am glad I did because I enjoyed this novel.

Combining the PI novel with the mythos is far from a ground breaking idea a collection a few years ago called Hard boiled Cthulhu. That book was a mixed bag but had a really cool entry by one of my favorite Mythos writers Cody Goodfellow. The author CJ Henderson also had a series of novel called Teddy Knight about a PI that messed with mythos beasties.

Carter and Howard is light years ahead of the well intentioned but not entirely well executed novels by Henderson. The opening chapter is a doozy and does a great job planting a story seed. The story of the the "Child Catcher" serial killer was the most interesting aspect of the story to me. Dan Carter can't take the police work anymore, the suicide of his partner and the crazy-ness of the crime scene was enough to force to leave the force. To be become a private eye. shortly after he gets mysterious gift. He has inherited from a man he has never met a book store in Providence.

The book store is like a dream bookstore for the nerdiest of Lovecraft fans. Picture a amazing old bookstore that is filled with rare limited editions run by a fictional heir to Lovecraft himself. From there the book gets whackey - in a good way.

Howard does a excellent job touching on aspects of the complete works Lovecraftian through the novel, chapters shift at times between titles, characters and themes that came straight from HPL works. That said the story hinges on this interesting metaphysical fold in reality.

The novel balances the tone and atmosphere of the genres crossed in the story. That is no minor task. I felt like the story got a little convoluted early in the third act. I think the early parts of the novel the first 60 pages were the strongest of the novel. Once the mystery starts unravel the novel loses a little steam.

That said I think this a really solid work and one of the better Lovecraftian works and interesting that it comes from someone who is not a regular at the Lovecraft film fest or has 38 stories in the various Cthulhu anthologies.

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