Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts

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Stevie P
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Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts

Post by Stevie P » Sat 2 May, 2009 11:52:37

‘The mixture as before’ was the original title for this collection of stories and oddments.
It was only when the book was already at press that it was discovered that Somerset Maugham had already used this title for a book of his short stories. A quick change was needed so the original medicine bottle that was due to shown on the cover was changed for a Champagne bottle and a title of ‘Tip up the Bottle’ was mooted as the new title.
It was decided not to go ahead with this title as several people felt that prospective readers may be misled into thinking that the book was about wine.
DW’s wife suggested, ‘A good time was had by nearly all’ which DW liked immensely but he decided that prospective readers would think it to be a novel.
The final choice of ‘Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts’, if unimaginative, would at least mislead no one.

The case of the thing that whimpered

The first of the four “Ghost hunterâ€￾ series

Bruce Hemmingway, an International lawyer and Neils Orsen, a Psychical researcher had met each other whilst on a cruise heading for New York.
Bruce invited Neils back to his Uncle Marks place where Bruce was staying.
Mark was a director in a large New York store and his company had recently purchased a warehouse for storage purposes.
The warehouse had had three night watchmen in a very short space of time. The first had been brutally attacked but all the doors and windows were still internally locked. The only information they could get from the night watchman was that the place dissolved and he was thrown forcibly forward and downward from an office high up in the warehouse to the concrete floor below. He also said that he had heard a whining sound like an animal in pain. Two replacement night watchmen had received a similar experience.

Bruce and Neils decided to set up recording equipment in the warehouse and spent a night in the warehouse. They also took guns with them in case the threat was from gunmen rather than ghosts.
At midnight , things started to happen.

Orchids on Monday

Allan Sybarite and his partner Virginia had been to a party. Virginia asked if he would mind dropping Doreen Eve back home to 96 Sloane Gardens. He was pleased to do so.
Allan was a newspaper checker at Fleet Street. It was a few days later, he noticed an advert in the personal column of the daily paper. It read; 'Orchids on Monday - 96 Sloane gardens - 11.30pm'
Recognising the address he wondered if this was a message for him. He wasn't sure but he was prepared to try it as Doreen was very attractive.
He turned up at her house with the orchids at 11.15 but she was not there. He waited and then she turned up in a taxi with another man (George). They both went into the house. He was unsure what to do.
Unbeknown to Allan, there were also two other men waiting in the shadows watching the house.
After 10 minutes , George left and joined the other two men and they watched and waited until they saw Doreen's bedroom light go off. After a while all three men went into the unlatched door to rob the safe.
Allan followed.

Special Leave

Lorna was delighted to get news that her boyfriend Captain John Grayson was coming home on a special 48 hours leave as he had to deliver some special papers that were too important to be posted.
She rushed off to Waterloo station to meet his train. She was early and so bought a platform ticket and sat on one of the benches. She noticed two nasty looking foreigners who were giving her strange looks.
Immigrants, she thought. They think they own the place.

The train arrived and John and Lorna dined at the Café de Paris. I was too late to pass the documents to the recipient. He would do so in the morning. John put his briefcase in the cloakroom. " Isn't that risky" she asked. "No", he said, "This is an expensive restaurant, the briefcase will be fine".
They wined and dined till the early hours of the morning and then he collected the briefcase and they caught a taxi back to Lorna's house. John had had quite a bit to drink by this time and so she helped him into the house.
She then went back to the car to collect the briefcase. As she opened the driver’s door, the other door opened and the briefcase was snatched and the two men that she had seen on the platform jumped into a car and sped off.

A Life for a Life

Herbert Sandmeyer is afraid to go to sleep. The Doctor was listening to the story in Herbert’s house whilst he recounted the events that led to this statement and the Doctor was waiting to visit a woman who was about to give birth in a nearby house..
â€￾I am a Psychic and on one occasion I took it too far and wished ill on a man named Frank Dawson who was trying to take Maggie (Herbert’s wife) away from him by telling numerous lies. Frank died and I know it was because of what I had previously done.
Some years after the incident, I visited the British Museum with my brother and I was looking at an Egyptian wooden painted coffin when the eyes on the coffin lit up. I was transfixed.
Soon after this I started to have nightmares, I was walking downstairs to a cellar and there was the lower half of the Egyptian coffin on the floor. Inside was a golden haired woman whose skin seemed perfectly normal but it felt cold. She sent a message to his brain to help get her out. She was so heavy and the effort sapped my strength so much.
The next night the same thing happened but it was much worse and he woke up screamingâ€￾
The doctor was already convinced that this was all because of Herbert’s excessive drinking. “Come and see me tomorrow at my surgeryâ€￾ he said. The Doctor left to help deliver the nearby woman’s baby.
Herbert went upstairs to bed.

In the Underground

The Narrator (no name) tells the story of the time that he was travelling on the underground. The carriage was mostly empty when two strangely dressed men got in and sat opposite him. One dressed in an old fashioned black suit (who the narrator named, killjoy – as he looked like one) and the other in a thin brown stripy material (who he called brown man). After a while Brown man took some papers out of a case and thrust them in front of killjoy. Killjoy didn’t really want to know anything about them. He glanced at them and then looked away. Brown man scowled and put the papers back in his case. A few minutes later brown man took a small box out of his pocket. It was a little like one of those Chinese boxes where the doors open on every side. Killjoy almost smiled. He picked it up and sniffed at the contents. The train pulled in to Blackfriars station and brown man grabbed the box back and thrust some other papers at killjoy which killjoy read in a panic. The narrator got off at the next stop, Mansion House.

It was later that day that our narrator just happened to be at the same lunch time venue as Brown man and his female friend. (Violet Meakin). The narrator could overhear some of the conversation. Violet was telling Brown man (who we now learn was called James Bond man !!- Did DW know Ian Fleming at this stage of his life?) what a skinflint her father (Killjoy) was. James agreed and said that he had got all he deserved.
The headlines in the paper that night read;

Mysterious death on Underground – Tobias Meakin dies in strange circumstances.

The narrator was baffled. Killjoy was alive when he left the train.....

The case of the Long-Dead Lord

The second of the four “Ghost hunterâ€￾ series

Arkon Clyde was an old friend of Bruce Hemmingway. He and his daughter Fiona had taken Castle Stuart - Inverness for a short while to relax and enjoy some highland shooting. As they had never been to Scotland before they asked if Bruce would join them to help them settle in.
However since she had been there she had been having the most awful nightmares. Then, yesterday Bruce and Fiona had been on a walk to the old castle nearby when she suddenly stopped and said, “I’ve been here beforeâ€￾ and started muttering something in Gaelic.
She then said that the Boar hound that belongs to the castle now no longer goes near her and her bedroom door never remains closed at night.
Bruce took Neils back to Castle Stuart to investigate.

The Fugitive King

From Old Rowley. A very private life of Charles II

This extract covers chapters 2 & 3 from the original book. A full review is given of ‘Old Rowley’ in the Library.

DW had visions of turning this book into a film and he has included details of his ‘Draft treatment for a film play’ which is quite an interesting read as he suggests altering some historic points to ensure the film has a little more ‘Love interest’ as well as sustaining the momentum of the picture after the tremendous pace of the King’s flight and escape from France.

In the Fog

The narrator, Reeves has for a long time had a horror of the Fog as it was in one that he had squared accounts with Eric Martin.
Eric was the most cynical and ruthless man he had ever met. His job was the bringing to grief by fair means or foul of Politicians and Industrialists in the Mohammedan world who were helping the Nazis.
After introducing Eric to his family, Eric became very friendly with his eighteen year old cousin Mary. In fact she became pregnant by him. Reeves went to see him to see what he had intended to do about it. “Nothingâ€￾ Eric replied. “She should have been more carefulâ€￾
The argument continued out into the Foggy streets of London to a point when Reeves lost his temper and in a moment of madness pushed Eric under a London bus.
In the paper the next morning was an article reporting that the body of a man had been picked up in Park Lane and identified as his.
These thoughts and actions of several years ago were going through Reeves’ mind when he heard footsteps behind him and a voice saying,â€￾ You are a lucky fellow to have made money, marry the cousin you love and get away with murder. Reeves froze.....

When the Reds Seized the City of Gold

This story is based on the 1922 communist insurrection in South Africa.
The miners were on strike in Johannesburg. ... cle&sid=73
The reason for this seems to have been instigated in Moscow according to this story.
Piet Vermeer (A Dutchman) was a land owner in Johannesburg. His daughter Sari was in love with John Campbell. This was somewhat unfortunate as he was British and there was quite a bit of antagonism after the British started swamping South Africa when Gold was discovered.
So John and Sari’s meetings were few and far between.
John had to go into J’burg to sort out some business. He told her not to follow him. Sari was very concerned as there was a lot of unrest in the towns and despite what John had said, she had to find him.
When her Father suspected what she had done he likewise, tried to find her. He managed to get to see General Spendiff who seemed to be in charge and found out that his daughter was being held as bait for Piet who they believed was trying to stop the revolt by contacting his friend Jan Smuts (The President of South Africa). Spendiff turned to one of his right hand men and said, John (Campbell), lock him up. He is a traitor, he will be executed in the morning.............

The case of the Red-Headed Women

The third of the four “Ghost hunterâ€￾ series

A young friend of Bruce Hemmimgway had just got married and was currently on honeymoon for a month.
They had also purchased a small flat in South Kensington.
Bruce tells his friend and Psychic investigator Neils Orsen that if he had been aware that they were about to purchase this place he would have tried to talk them out of it as there had been three people who had committed suicide in this flat over a relatively short period of time. Neils mentioned that it may be due to a genuine Saati manifestation. This term was used in ‘The Devil Rides Out’ (Different spelling though)
On pages 40 and 184 the term Saiitii is used for the 'sack like' creature that tried to enter the pentagram. In the Hammer film the Saiitii was substituted by a Spider.

Neils and his accompanying cat ‘Past’ (Possibly a variation on the word Bast I can’t find any reference to Past - The word Past has a sideways ‘S’ type accent on the letter a.) take a look at the flat.
When Neils returns to Bruce he acknowledges that the flat has “a most unpleasant atmosphereâ€￾ but has found nothing Supernatural.
There were three things that did strike him as curious though,
1) None of these people had any apparent motive for taking their lives.
2) All three Suicides occurred between midnight and One in the morning.
3) The curious coincidence that the two women had very fine heads of red hair.

The other important factor seemed to be that both women committed suicide on the second day after the new moon. Neils and Bruce decide to go to the flat two days after the next new moon.
They do so and when the get there they are surprised to see the newly married Peter Wembley who explains that he had to cut the honeymoon short as urgent business called at work.
Pauline Wembley was apparently getting ready for bed. She had Grey eyes!!
Bruce & Neils didn’t want to have to tell them of their real reason for being there so they tried to drag out the time till midnight. Peter was getting rather annoyed at the lateness of the hour.
It was at this point that Neils decided to make a dash for the bedroom to see what was happening....

The Born Actor

Charlie Carson, an ensign of the Irish guards was talking to a dance hostess at the Colney Hatch night club.
The girls name was Venetia. She was married to Jimmy but had not seen him for two years.
"Why don't you leave him then" asked Charlie. "I still love him" she replied. He left because he had a drink problem and this caused a Jekyll & Hyde character which was causing family problems.

She happened to notice a small older man dressed in uniform with lots of medal ribbons on his jacket. " I wonder what he did to get them".
"Possibly nothing" Charlie said. "I've heard of several incidences when people have dressed up in uniforms way above their station and worn medals that they had never won. In fact I can recall an incident when I was stationed in Norway and a man in uniform appeared with a DSO and MC on his jacket. He helped us out tremendously well and when he and his small group of soldiers had held out against the Germans for hours and he lay dying , he told us that he was not a soldier but an actor. His name was James Brandon".
Venetia Brandon fainted…

The Deserving Poor

Fiona and Dick had just become engaged and they were enjoying a celebration dinner at the Savoy.
Dick had also taken £100 pounds from his bank account which he gave to Fiona to do with as she wished. Initially she thought of going on a spending spree. New clothes, perhaps. Then she changed track and decided to give it to people who were more in need.
After their dinner they took a walk along the embankment and gave ten shillings to each person who appeared to be in need.
It was getting darker and there was only £15 left to hand out so they decided to walk down some steps leading down to the water’s edge to see if there were any other people they could give' hand outs' to.
They had only been there a couple of minutes when a motor launch pulled up to the landing stage and a man jumped out. He sidled up to Dick and said , "Its 'orl right guv'nor. the Limper's coshed the watchman 'an they're gettin' 'art the bales - the safe shouldn't take much bustin'"

The man suddenly realised he wasn't talking to his gang boss, but Dick.
The crew tell Dick and Fiona to get into the boat whilst they decide what to do with the m….


This is a short, straight forward, 'slightly clinical' review that DW carried out on a book called 'Voodoo in Haiti' by Alfred Metraux.

It tells us that Voodoo, unlike most religions has no established doctrine or formal liturgy. It is a hotchpotch of rituals and superstitions from which each Hungen as the master of the congregation is free to choose.
The humfo is the area that contains the altar and gaudy pictures of Christian Saints.
The hunsi are the initiated disciples.

This review did not appear in the original hardback edition of 'Gunmen, Gallants and Ghost's'.

Love Trap

This is a story written specifically as a favour to Jennifer Mattingly for her magazine 'Woman’s Own'
DW is almost apologetic in his notes about the story and recommends that his male readers skip it!!

Colonel Jackson was berating Peter Grayley for bringing an ATS girl (Sheila Beaufort) into the Officers mess the previous evening.
He tried to explain that they had nowhere else to meet as he had recently had an accident with the car and it had to be repaired but the Colonel was having none of it. Peter even told him that he was planning to marry the girl, which the Colonel liked even less as he thought they were both too young and he said that he certainly wouldn't back that decision either.
Despite all that had happened Peter had arranged with Sheila that they should meet in his room behind the officers mess later that evening . (Which she was not supposed to be doing either), as his roommate (Toby Fanshaw) was away for a couple of hours.
She managed to follow the instructions and walked into his room but there was nobody there. She waited for some time and then the Colonel appeared.
She had gone into the wrong room….. He shouted at her for being there; she started crying and while he was giving her a comforting hug , Sheila's ATS Commandant walked in……

The case of the Haunted Chateau

The fourth and final story of the four “Ghost hunterâ€￾ series

General Hayes was an old friend Neils Olsen. The General had ask him if he would be kind enough to investigate an old castle that was being used by officers very close to the Front line in France.
The General went on to explain that a number of officers would not stay there at all as the place was so badly haunted. The worst cases appeared to be happening in the one and only bathroom and somebody had actually died in there recently, presumably as the result of a heart attack.

Neils took Bruce with him to view the castle and took the time to explain the history of the place.
Prior to the French revolution it was owned by the Vicomte de Cheterau who was cruel and avaricious to his staff. Apart from beating them regularly he decided to impose a local tax on nails so that it was virtually impossible for them to build anything so the poorest peasants had to resort to the laborious task of making wooden nails from the odd bits of wood they could find in the hedgerows.
Eventually the Serfs rebelled and dragged him out of bed and crucified him using the imposed wooden nails.
Neils also said that he might be able to show Bruce a real Saati manifestation this time.
Neils confirms that the bathroom is the main area of concern and with Bruce’s help he sets up a Pentacle in the bathroom; a la Devil Rides Out.
During the night whilst the two are enclosed in the pentacle, Bruce lets out a horrific scream. It is then that Neils determines that the ‘thing’ is inside the Pentacle with them......

The Sideboard

DW’s only (I think) humorous story

The narrator and his friend Archie are at an auction and have been looking at a sideboard.
Not just an ordinary sideboard but a “vast, enormous, gargantuan sideboard. Grandfather and begetter of all the sideboards that had ever been.
The narrator ends up buying the Sideboard for the ridiculously small amount of £5. Fairly soon after the sale has gone through a pretty girl who has been standing nearby asks if she can buy the Sideboard off him at a profit to himself as she missed the sale. The narrator tries it on a little and tells the girl it is a valuable piece.
“Nonsenseâ€￾ she laughed, “it’s a horrid old thing but I’d like to have it How much will you take?â€￾
“Its genuine pre-Woolworthâ€￾ he assured her. “And anyway, it’s been in the possession of the Toothkins family for over a 100 years and my mother told me never to let it go to anybody outside the familyâ€￾
Ethelfreda Toothkins looked astonished.

Black Magic

In DW’s introductory notes to this section of six sub-articles he explains that so little is understood by the general public on this subject that he went to great pains to express his views clearly. However due to cuts and amendments in the material by the sub-editor many of the passages no longer made sense.
This series therefore appears for the first time (New Arrow paperback edition - 1963) unabridged , unaltered and as originally written for the very first time.

Article No. 1 – White and Black Magic

As stated above the DW’s views are expressed very clearly and make fascinating reading.
He states that, “If you do not believe that the Devil is interested in you , then you do not believe in God. You cannot believe in one and not the otherâ€￾
He talks of what life was like in the middle ages and how everyone’s mind was dominated by religion. Some people would admit to seeing ‘things’!.
Aleister Crowley once told DW that it is perfectly possible to raise – he did not say the Devil but that is what he meant.
DW states quite casually that we all have Guardian Angels, and it is his opposite number that may become visible to human eyes in exceptional circumstances.
Why are we rarely troubled by such supernatural visitors these days? Because our lives are more complex nowadays. The modern mind is now occupied by such things as Sport, Politics, Cinema, Travel, etc to the exclusion of religion.
Terrific stuff.

Article No. 2 – The Black Art and the Supernatural

DW tells of one of the most interesting men he has met in this field – Rollo Ahmed.
DW learned a lot from him relating to the Black Art. Briefly. It is defined as a system of short cuts leading to power.
Anyone can say prayers or think evil. God or the Devil can answer prayers as the evil will give strength and resolution to perform evil.
DW then goes on to explain how the brain is a form of wireless set which needs to be tuned in to get the best results. There are various ways that DW offers.
He also talks of Harry Price – The famous Ghost catcher and the Rev. Montague Summers who had both met.

Article No. 3 – The Witches’ Sabbath

The Sabbath – at which thirteen persons met by night to worship the devil with obscene rites-was in Europe the direct outcome of the spread of Christianity. The new religion was promoting fasting, charity and a puritanical existence. Many preferred the old Roman festivals festival’s by a good old fashioned orgy.

Aleister Crowley, so DW was told by a well-known MP who knew him intimately, held a Sabbath at Cambridge. He was a brilliant scholar and planned to produce a Greek play; but due to its immorality the master of St John’s forbade it. To be avenged he made a wax image of the master and performed certain rites. He was about to plunge a needle into the liver of the wax figure when somebody panicked and jerked his arm. The needle went into the wax figure’s ankle. The next day the master fell down some stairs and broke his ankle.
There are many other facts and figures told in this section.

Article No. 4 – The Black Mass

Each Holy Mass is dedicated to a definite ’Intention’; so are Black Masses.

DW details the regalia, ritual and implements used to furnish the altar and its surroundings. These include a broken crucifix in an upside down position, black candles in which brimstone is mixed with the tallow.
He also advise of the recruitment methods for the Devil through spiritualism. Talent scouts can be on the lookout for widows of a certain age, wealthy gentlemen and young women who show signs of being neurotic!!!

His final paragraph advises of the still unsolved murder of Charles Walton at Lower Quinton, Warwickshire in 1945 to which no explanation could be given other than it was a ritual killing. ... ture.shtml

Article No. 5 – The Devils Secret Societies

DW states that, “Genuine Satanic worship is still as prevalent today as – shall we say the dope trafficâ€￾
He also mentions that Magic is a science. It can’t just be picked up. One would have to have quite an exceptional brain to make, unaided, any practical use of Eliphas Levi’s ‘Doctrine and Ritual Transcendental Magic’, or the famous ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, or even of Aleister Crowley’s ‘Magick in theory and Practice’ ,
‘Le Clavicule de Salomon (as mentioned in ‘The Devil Rides Out’) and ‘Grimoire of Pope Honorius’
Then there were the Knights Templar an order of chivalry founded for the rescue of the Holy sepulchre.
Evil successors to their early Grand Masters enforced initiates to spit three times on the cross and swear allegiance to the Devil in the form of a bearded idol named Baphomet.

Article No. 6 –Foretelling the Future

Some people are able to foretell the future. In the 1920’s DW used to occasionally visit a seer named Dewhirst. He predicted to DW when he would meet his wife and even described the way she did her hair.
In 1932 DW went to see him again and he exclaimed “You’ve written a bookâ€￾, which surprised DW as he hadn’t seen him for two years.
He used no cards or crystal. Only lesser soothsayers require such aids for tuning into the occult.

Fortune telling of this kind is not evil. But it becomes so when cruelty to animals and/or Satanic rituals are employed. Ancients examined the entrails of still living birds & beasts: and necromancy entails raising the dead – as that dark tale in the Bible tells us The Witch of Endor did for Saul.
(This made me think that a Guy Endore wrote ‘The Werewolf of Paris. No 2 in the Library of the Occult series – Just an observation!!!!)

Finally: Should you ever have reason to believe that you have come into the orbit of malignant occult forces, do not hesitate to contact your parson or priest. They will not laugh. And should you ever be confronted with an evil manifestation, have no fear. Pray for help. It will immediately be given to you. Make the sign of the Cross and ‘thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night’

The Red Verdun

From Red Eagle

This extract covers Chapters 11 & 13 from the original book. A full review is given of ‘Red Eagle’ in the Library.

DW writes, “He, (Voroshilov) will go down to history as the man who, in a little over twenty years, and starting from scratch with an ill-disciplined, ill armed rabble, forged the world’s mightiest military machineâ€￾

The Snake

The narrator of this story had been asked to drop into to have a drink with his nearest neighbour, Carstairs.
He also took along a man called Jackson who was an engineer who had been reporting on a mine that the narrators company were interested in.

They were sitting in comfortable armchairs with the windows open, taking in the sounds and smells of the beautiful warm South African summer’s night.
Then, the bat flew in to the lounge. Carstairs panicked and buried his head in the armchair screaming, “Get rid off itâ€￾
When the bat flew out Carstairs explained the reasons for his actions.
Carstairs was struggling to make ends meet when he met a man called Benny Isaacsohn. He was a rough ‘type’ but at least he paid a wage, if a blind eye was turned to some of the deals he was involved in.
One of the shady deals was with a local witch doctor called Umtonga. All was going well until Umtonga got into some debt and couldn’t pay the amount that he owed to Benny. Umtonga offered to repay a portion of it but couldn’t go any further as it would break him. Benny was stubborn and wouldn’t compromise.
Umtonga then told him, “Take my offer or dieâ€￾

The Bombing of Britain!!!

When DW wrote The Forbidden Territory he tried very hard to get Alfred Hitchcock to turn the book into a film. Alfred was very keen to do so but was just on the verge of switching film companies and so he asked DW to hold fire until he switched over. The film eventually was made but not with Hitchcock as the director. The film was not as successful as a result.
Due to DW’s disappointment with ‘The Forbidden Territory’ Hitch called DW to discuss his idea of making a film showing what the next Great War might mean to London. (Bear in mind this was 1935).
DW hoped that some of Hitch’s vivid imagination was still apparent in the story he wrote, ‘The Bombing of Britain’. Alas, this second attempt at collaboration was also doomed to failure. The men who held the money were not prepared to risk taking any chances on a war film that might affect trade particularly as Germany was becoming a powerful force on the scene. Big business, one of the aspects of which is film finance, would not even discuss the idea of a “Next Warâ€￾ picture.

The story begins at Hyde Park Corner with Michael Shane, a young inventor listening to a heated discussion relating to foreigners stealing our trade. One of the other listeners isn’t too keen on Michael’s comments and a minor disturbance occurs. Michael steps of the kerb and a car catches him and knocks him on the floor.
The driver, Cynthia Jerringham, is very worried but all is reasonably well with only a few bumps to Michael’s pride. Cynthia, nonetheless takes him home to brush up.
Michael realises that she is the daughter of Lord Edward Jerringham – The Secretary of State for Air!!
Lord Edward was indeed the Secretary of State for Air and was at that time in an important meeting with the Prime Minister, The first Lord of the Admiralty and the Chief of the Imperial general Staff. The question of the day was should they invest money primarily on Planes, Battleships or Infantry and their equipment.
Edward was being chauffer driven home and was discussing the day’s events with his Secretary. The Secretary was informing Edward that Slavonia had placed another order for ten squadrons of planes from Vickworth. The Chauffer, Saker was listening intently. Sometime later Saker passed this information on to the Slavenese contact.
Due to the fact that one of England’s dominions was getting worried by foreign encroachment into their markets , Edward asked Vickworth to withhold the delivery of the Slavonian Planes. He declines as it was too good a deal to put at risk (unless the Government wanted to buy them) . They didn’t.

Michael tells Cynthia of his new invention; a petrol exploder. This is basically a form of Laser Gun which can explode planes at some distance.

In view of the delicate situation with Slavonia the government decide to commandeer the ten squadrons. They state that as Britain has closed its markets to them a state of war now exists between them. The Bombing of Britain is about to begin......

This is another good collection of Stories and Articles. My favourite’s being, ‘A life for a life’, ‘In the Underground’, ’The Case of the Haunted Chateau’ and ‘The Snake’.
I also enjoyed the six articles on ‘Black Magic’ which were fascinating.

‘In the Fog’, Voodoo and the Black Magic articles did not appear in the original Hutchinson hardback edition.
‘The Bombing of London ‘did not appear in Arrow paperback editions.

Steve Whatley
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Post by Steve Whatley » Tue 5 May, 2009 21:49:23

Re: 'The Born Actor' - Venetia is also the name of the heroine of 'No Ordinary Virgin' by Eve Chaucer (Mrs. Dennis Wheatley). The only two occasions I can recall seeing the name, although I'm now going to check the staff badge of that Italian-looking woman who works in my local blind fittings shop.

I remember enjoying the 'Ghost Hunter' series, and thinking that they could possibly be adapted for television; the Neils character always made me think of Nils-Henning Orsted Pederson (NHOP), the late great jazz bass player.

Stevie P
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Post by Stevie P » Wed 6 May, 2009 17:05:32

Yes, Very good Steve. Perhaps the woman in the shop couldn't see what she was writing!!!

You've also just reminded me that the Scandinavian spelling for the first name should be Nils (shouldn't it??) I don't recall hearing or seeing a Neils, before ????

Steve Whatley
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Post by Steve Whatley » Wed 6 May, 2009 21:38:18

That's right - I thought it looked strange.

Oddly enough, there was an obituary of a Venetia in the Telegraph today - as a little girl she got to name the planet Pluto.

So that's three Venetias (plus possibly the woman in the blind shop).

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Post by Jim » Wed 6 May, 2009 21:51:39

Venetia is also the name of the heroine in novels by Georgette Heyer and Benjamin Disraeli.

Steve Whatley
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Post by Steve Whatley » Sat 9 May, 2009 10:50:54

Jim, I don't know whether I'm more impressed by the fact of your finding two more Venetias, or by the fact that you've apparently read Heyer and Disraeli. I don't suppose those two authors are very similar in style to DW, or are they?

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Post by Jim » Mon 11 May, 2009 00:34:21

Steve Whatley wrote:Jim, I don't know whether I'm more impressed by the fact of your finding two more Venetias, or by the fact that you've apparently read Heyer and Disraeli. I don't suppose those two authors are very similar in style to DW, or are they?
No similarity, I would say. I've not read anything by Disraeli, but I have read a great deal of Heyer--all the mysteries (twice; the second time for an article I wrote), and many of the Regency novels. It's not true, but one critic complained that her heroines "never lose their lives, their virtue, or even their tempers."

Steve Whatley
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Neils Orsen makes 'The Top 25 Occult and Psychic Detectives'

Post by Steve Whatley » Wed 1 Sep, 2010 15:15:41

The current (October!!!) issue of Book and Magazine Collector includes an article by Richard Dalby entitled 'A Century Of Occult Detectives', which looks at 25 of the best and most collectable. The term 'Top 25' is used only on the front cover of the magazine, so it's not clear whether the 25 featured in the article are actually 'ranked', although with Bram Stoker's Abraham Van Helsing heading the list perhaps they are.

I must admit I've only heard of a couple of the other featured characters: William Hope Hodgson's Thomas Carnacki comes in 5th, and Carl Kolchak, created by Jeff Rice, at number 21. The latter I've heard of only through reading about (but never seeing) the US TV series 'Kolchak - The Night Stalker'.

However, there at number 16 is Dennis Wheatley's Neils Orsen, hero of four short stories in 'Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts'. I'd have said - without doing any homework - that there were at least six or eight Neils Orsen stories, so the fact that there are only four suggests that the character made quite an impression on me. If DW had got around to writing a whole bookful of 'Ghost Hunter' stories as intended, the character would perhaps be better remembered.

As a sometime Sax Rohmer-reader, I shall now be seeking a copy of 'The Dream Detective', featuring Moris Klaw (who came in 6th, a short nose behind Carnacki).

The issue also contains a fourteen-page article on 'Ghosts And Ghost Hunters' by Andrew Thomas, with four-page bibliography.

There is also ongoing correspondence about the pricing policy in Oxfam bookshops, which I have been following with interest.

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Post by Jim » Thu 2 Sep, 2010 10:23:24

I'd love to read this article, but I can't imagine where in New York City I would get this magazine. I'm pretty sure the times I've seen it, I've bought it in London. I used to get it on every trip, and then go through the hassle of writing back and forth to people (pre e-mail, if you can conceive of such a time), then the bother and expense of getting an international money order (pre PayPal) for titles that never showed up in the shops here. Ah, those were the days!

[Since I originally posted this, I have gotten a copy of this issue--through the kindness of Steve!]

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Post by Jim » Sun 3 Apr, 2011 00:12:43

Another interesting thing about this volume: the table of contents lists the stories by type or category, not in the order in which they appear in the book...a most unusual arrangement. Both the story collections do it, and this continued through the Lymington reprints.

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Re: Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts

Post by Jim » Mon 25 Jul, 2011 00:57:54

Stevie P wrote: Black Magic
In DW’s introductory notes to this section he explains that so little is understood by the general public on this subject that he went to great pains to express his views clearly. However due to cuts and amendments in the material by the sub-editor, many of the passages no longer made sense. This series therefore appears for the first time (New Arrow paperback edition - 1963) unabridged, unaltered and as originally written.

Article No. 1 – White and Black Magic
Article No. 2 – The Black Art and the Supernatural
Article No. 3 – The Witches’ Sabbath
Article No. 4 – The Black Mass
Article No. 5 – The Devil's Secret Societies
Article No. 6 – Foretelling the Future
I just realized that these are the same six articles that appear in Satanism and Witches in the "DW Library of the Occult" (more than ten years later...).

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