Tonight’s Read: Gaslight Gothic—An Anthology of Strange Stories of Sherlock Holmes, ed. by Charles Prepolec & J R Campbell (EDGE-Lite 2018)

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Table of Contents

Publisher’s Note
Books in the Gaslight Series
Introduction
It Is Not the Cold Which Makes Me Shiver by Charles Prepolec
The Cuckoo’s Hour by Mark A. Latham
The Spirit of Death by David Stuart Davies
Father of the Man by Stephen Volk
The Strange Case of Dr. Sacker and Mr. Hope by James Lovegrove
The Ignoble Sportsmen by Josh Reynolds
The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder by Nancy Holder
The Lizard Lady of Pemberton Grange by Mark Morris
The Magic of Africa by Kevin P. Thornton
A Matter of Light by Angela Slatter
The Song of a Want b Lyndsay Faye
About the Editors
About the Cover Artist
Need something New to Read
Detail

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What’s on the Tube? Killer Legends–A Documentary from the Makers of Cropsey…

I thought Cropsey was a stellar documentary. So I’m eager to watch Killer Legends, this filmmaker’s second documentary about Urban Legends and there possible sources. Check it out, now, streaming on Netflix!

Killer Legends (One Sheet) 2014

For those unaware, like I was, but apparently, social scientists are trying to re-brand urban legends as “contemporary legends.” Well, whatever the label, what these legends basically boil down to is modern folklore or oft told tales — usually with a macabre element or an ironic twist to them, deeply rooted in popular culture, with just a hint of plausibility to keep the gullible hooked enough to keep passing them along. These tales are used as fables, parables, possible explanations for strange occurrences or events, but, more often than not, they are used as cautionary tales that usually happened to a friend of a friend of a friend or someone’s cousin’s uncle. And one of the prime examples of an urban legend is the tale of ‘The Hook.’

It begins with a young couple parked in a secluded lover’s lane engaged in some premarital necking. And as hormones rage, passions heat up, and few hickeys are born, the music on the radio is interrupted by a breaking news bulletin revealing an escaped mental patient / mad-dog killer has just escaped from a nearby asylum / prison; and this fugitive has one very distinguishing characteristic: one of his hands is missing, and has been replaced with a stainless steel hook — which he used to murder several people. The bulletin ends with the authorities encouraging everyone to stay indoors until this madman is captured. Of course, the girl is frightened and wants to head home. The boy, who was >this close< to getting to second base mere moments ago, scoffs, saying the killer is probably miles away. And as the minutes tick by while they argue about what to do, a sudden scraping outside her door frightens the girl so much the boy finally gives up and drives away. But when he gets to her house, ever the gentlemen, he exits the car and hoofs it around the hood to get the door for her. And there, caught on the passenger side handle, hangs a torn-off stainless steel hook covered in blood.

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Urban Legends: The Hook Man & Dear Abby??

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(3B Theater Micro-Brewed Reviews)

You heard it right. At one point during the 1950-1960s, the “Hooked Man” urban legend had so infiltrated teen society, that Dear Abby featured the legend in her newspaper column.

The Legend Goes

A man and woman are in love, and after their date of dinner and a movie, they decide to go to a secluded spot and have some special quiet time alone with each other. They drive to a spot near the woods at a lookout point, which overlooks the city below. They turn on the radio to some soft listening music and begin to kiss, hug, and talk of their future together. As time goes by, an announcement comes on the radio telling of an escaped murderer that has a hook for a hand. The man blows it off however the woman starts to feel nervous and uneasy, as the place of the institution that this man has escaped from is just on the other side of the woods they are park at. She convinces her lover that they should leave, and the man, frustrated, speeds off in a frantic manner. They arrive at the woman’s home, and he gets out, opens her door to walk her to her front door. That is when he notices a bloody hook attached to the passenger side of the door.

The Beginning: The Hook

According to popular lore, bloody hooks have been left hanging on car doors since the mid-1950s. It’s possible the roots of legends like The Hook and The Boyfriend’s Death lie in distorted memories of real life Lover’s Lane murders. There were actual cases of kids who’d gone necking coming back in pine boxes. The residue of news stories about those events would likely remain around for a while, mutating into cautionary tales with the addition of bloody hooks and scraping sounds on the roof of the car.

Real life roots or not, The Hook has been a legend for almost as long as anyone can remember. The key to this legend is the boyfriend’s frustrated response to the girl’s demand to end the date abruptly. Almost invariably, he is said to have gunned the engine and roared away. This behavior is essential to explain how the hook became ripped from the killer’s arm, and to underscore the moral of the tale. The boyfriend’s frustration stems from sexual denial. His girlfriend’s insistence on getting home right away puts the kibosh to any randy thoughts he’d been hoping to turn into reality that night, and he’s some pissed about it.

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A Poem a Day #7: “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

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Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

(Waxwing, Issue IX, Summer 2016)

“The House of the Red Candle”—A Murder Mystery by Martin Edwards

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The House of the Red Candle

Martin Edwards

To the end of his days, Charles Dickens forbade all talk about the slaying of Thaddeus Whiteacre. The macabre features of the tragedy—murder by an invisible hand; the stabbing of a bound man in a room both locked and barred; the vanishing without trace of a beautiful young woman—were meat and drink to any imaginative mind. Wilkie Collins reflected more than once that he might have woven a triple-decker novel of sensation from the events of that dreadful night, but he knew that publication was impossible. Dickens would treat any attempt to fabricate fiction from the crime as a betrayal, an act of treachery he could never forgive.

Dickens said it himself: The case must never be solved.

His logic was impeccable; so was his generosity of heart. Even after Dickens’s death, Collins honoured his friend’s wishes and kept the secret safe. But he also kept notes, and enough time has passed to permit the truth to be revealed. Upon the jottings in Collins’s private records is based this account of the murder at the House of the Red Candle.

* * *

A crowded tavern on the corner of a Greenwich alleyway, a stone’s throw from the river. At the bar, voices were raised in argument about a wager on a prizefight and a group of potbellied draymen carolled a bawdy song about a mermaid and a bosun. The air was thick with smoke and the stale stench of beer. Separate from the throng, two men sat at a table in the corner, quenching their thirsts.

The elder, a middle-sized man in his late thirties, rocked back and forth on his stool, his whole being seemingly taut with tension, barely suppressed. His companion, bespectacled and with a bulging forehead, fiddled with his extravagant turquoise shirt pin while stealing glances at his companion. Once or twice he was about to speak, but something in the other’s demeanour caused him to hold his tongue. At length he could contain his curiosity no longer.

‘Tell me one thing, my dear fellow. Why here?’

Charles Dickens swung to face his friend, yet when he spoke, he sounded as cautious as a poker player with a troublesome hand of cards. ‘Is the Rope and Anchor not to your taste, then, Wilkie?’

‘Well, it’s hardly as comfortable as the Cock Tavern. Besides, it’s uncommon enough for our nightly roamings to take us south of the river, and you gave the impression of coming here with a purpose.’ He winced as a couple of drunken slatterns shrieked with mocking laughter. The object of their scorn was a woman with a scarred cheek who crouched anxiously by the door, as if yearning for the arrival of a friendly face. ‘And the company is hardly select! All this way on an evening thick with fog! Frankly, I expected you to have rather more pleasurable company in mind.’

‘My dear Wilkie,’ Dickens said, baring his teeth in a wicked smile. ‘Who is to say that I have not?’

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“Of course you can!”

via “Of course you can!”