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Hardboiled Cthulhu: Two-fisted Tales of Tentacled Terror Paperback – July 15, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Some housekeeping: The book is a handsome trade paperback, well up to Elder Sign Press' usual excellent standards. No autographed collector edition signed by the authors, more's the pity! The wonderfully evocative cover art is by David Senecal and is perfectly in tune with the collection's theme: world weary private eyes and HPL's mythos, kind of Raymond Chandler and extradimensional tentacles. Price is $11.67 at Amazon, with free shipping available if you buy at least $25 worth of stuff. This is heavily discounted from list $17.95. Page count is a generous 330, just about all devoted to the stories and counting a few pages of mini-bios of the authors at the end. Production qualities are high; I can't recall any typos.Read more ›
Only 6 of 21 stories have a private detective in them, 1 is even Conan-like sword and sorcery (how that got included beats me). The rest are OK Mythos tales but are not really "hard-boiled" in the traditional sense.
Either Ambuehl didn't specify what he wanted from the authors strictly enough or he let them get away with shoddy work, either way it's bad editorship.
James Ambuel took on the mantle, but unfortunately, with this anthology he did not actually succeed. A collection of uneven stories, the works were to embrace stories that are “hardboiled,” with the impression they are basically pastiches of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
The result is a mishmash of detective noir (Ambuehl’s opening story, The Pisces Club), detective noir satire (Tim Curran’s entertaining Eldritch-Fellas), an Iraqi war story (Jeffrey Thomas’ Pazuzu’s Children), a reporter investigating the Starry Wisdom cult (Robert M. Price’s The Prying Investigations of Edwin M. Lillibridge) and others. Buyer beware, you are getting a book of Cthulhu Mythos stories, but they embrace all sorts of themes and tropes.
All in all, the collection holds its own. Jonathan Sharp’s The White Mountains introduces us to two moonshine runners who fall on the wrong side of an inbred mountain family who just happen to worship one very nasty monstrosity. John Sunseri has a little story about professional thieves stealing the Necronomicon from the heavily guarded library at Miskatonic University. The anthology also has offerings from the late J. F. Gonzalez and the late C.J. Henderson, so collectors of their works may find some value in the book.
All in all, the collection is not a waste of time. Just be aware of what you are buying.
Some of those wiseguys are "Eldritch-Fellas". Tim Curran's tale of that name mixes said fellas trying to avoid an indictment by the Elder Gods with several hat tips to famous scenes from modern gangster movies and tv shows. Cthulhu, here, is, in the words of his bosses, "getting out of hand". Funny, something of a tour de force, and one of the best stories in the book. The mob hitman narrating William Jones' "A Change of Life" happens to be temporarily possessed by a member of the Great Race of Yith. The unusual perspective of the story, and the reason he involves himself with a singer fleeing Dutch Schulz, make this another highlight.
The mob enforcer of David Witteveen's "Ache" has unexpected sympathy for his quarry, a youngster studying the Yellow Book and on the run for stealing mob money. E. P. Berglund's "A Dangerous High" puts an ex-military policeman on the trail of a gang dealing in Tind'losi Liao, the drug from Frank Belknap Long's classic mythos story "The Hounds of Tindalos".
Lesser Lovecraft stories inspired Patrick Thomas' "Then Terror Came" and Cody Goodfellow's "To Skin a Dead Man". Thomas' story has the Department of Magical Affairs, a mostly overt Federal agency that handles occult menaces, and an ex-serial killer who works for them. The confusing plot of Goodfellow's story is full of doublecrossings. But the plot isn't the point. The story takes off on the black humor of Lovecraft's "Herbert West - Reanimator" as we meet backstreet corpse revivalists, zombie boxers, and a bored wizard.
Things need to be stolen in several stories .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've wanted to read this book for ages, and was unable to find it. Mythos fiction tends to "disappear" in public libraries, if the reader knows what I mean. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Me-not-you
I purchased this anthology in the Hodges Figgis during a vacation in Ireland.I decided to buy the majority of the anthologies in the horror section of the store (i visited the... Read morePublished on November 26, 2011 by Eitan Mizrahi
I wasn't expecting The Big Sleep, you know? But when you buy a book that claims to be an anthology of Hardboiled/Lovecraftian stories, you do expect it to... Read morePublished on April 9, 2011 by Wanderer D
I found this dull reading, suitable only if you're really bored and have already read anything else you can get your hands on.Published on March 21, 2010 by B. Bryant
Only some of the stories follow the noir-ish theme implied by the title and cover, but an above-standard collection of Lovecraft (and other authors) inspired short stories.Published on December 8, 2007 by Jonathan R. Hatch
This mixing of genres seemed like a good idea, but it did not work. The only reason that it rates two stars is that there are some stories that pass: "A Little Job in Arkham" and... Read morePublished on July 27, 2007 by S. Potter
Maybe some short stories in this book are worth reading, but I couldn't get to them - I tried the first 5 or 6, and they were very amateur and cliche. Read morePublished on March 27, 2007 by J. White