House Of The Hatchet

Tandem Horror & Witchcraft paperbacks 1964-1975

Archive for the ‘Charles Birkin’ Category

Charles Birkin – Dark Menace

Posted by demonik on November 15, 2009

Charles Birkin – Dark Menace (Tandem, 1968)

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Dark Menace
Happy As Larry
S.O.S.
The Jungle
T-I-M
The Life Giver
‘Don’ t Ever Leave Me’
The Yellow Dressing Gown
Waiting for Trains
The Lord God Made Them All
The Accessory
Simple Simon
Siren Song

includes perhaps his grimmest war story after the nororious ‘A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts’, Waiting For Trains:  “Would the horror of this war, even in its aftermath, never end?”

Dresselberg. At the close of WWII, George Barrow, a reluctant railway transport officer in the occupying army, is powerless to prevent a train crossing the border into Soviet territory due, in part, to the indifference of his superiors who can’t be bothered to check one of the prisoner’s credentials for fear of causing a diplomatic incident. The cattle trucks are crammed with young Russian immigrants who’d been conscripted into the German army and are therefore “traitors”. When the train reaches Glenheisen they will be killed and buried in a mass grave, as have so many before them. Depressingly, this one is even bereft of the “relax – it’s only a story” get-out clause.

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Charles Birkin – Where Terror Stalked

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin – Where Terror Stalked (Tandem, 1966)

 

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Where Terror Stalked, New Faces, Obsession, Shelter, The Orphanage, Paris Pilgrimage, The Belt, Softly … Softly, Old Mrs. Strathers, The Harlem Horror, Gran, Bring Back My Bonny, No More For Mary.

To Ralph Stokes for no good reason

Just a quick note for the time being: The Harlem Horror, Shelter, Obsession and Old Mrs. Strathers are all from the Creeps series although they’ve reputedly been slightly amended/ updated. I’m sure that The Belt is also a reworking of Henri Larne.

Old Mrs. Strathers: Paralysed by a stroke, old Mrs. Strathers is powerless to intervene on her doting son’s behalf when his faithless wife, Molly, sets about poisoning him. As Ronnie lies dying, with a supreme effort she raises herself from her chair, and … pitches headfirst into the fireplace ….

Paris Pilgrimage: A revamped, extended version of The Cockroach from ‘Monsters.’ Thirty years on from the awful events, we catch up with Jane on her return to the scene of the crime.

New Faces: “You mean it’s the bloke what was in the news tonight … the fellah what could ‘elp the police in connection with doin’ in all those perverts?”. Thomas Brown’s murder spree has accounted for the death of eight homosexuals, but the net is closing in and he’s aware of being watched wherever he goes. To get away from one plain-clothes policeman, he slips into the waxworks and hides himself away in the Chamber of Horrors for the night.

The Harlem Horror: The Harwoods, Michael, Mary and little Clare, move from London to New York. There have been a spate of child disappearances in the Big Apple, and one day Clare goes missing. Some months later, the grieving, broken parents attend a funfair on Coney Island. During a sudden downpour they take shelter in a tent which turns out to be the entrance to a freak show. The star exhibit is the ‘What-is-it?’, a one-eyed, hideously deformed creature which the barker assures is female and aged no more than ten. On the boat home to England, Michael buys a newspaper. The lead story tells of a police raid on a laboratory in Harlem where the brilliant – albeit criminally insane – plastic surgeon, Sir John Trowbridge, has been performing abominable vivisections on children and animals which he then sells on to the freak shows …

Obsession: Hartledean. Doris Carson and Henry Russell are to wed. Joe, the village idiot, has a massive crush on Doris as she’s the only person who has ever been kind to him. After she gently declines his offer of marriage, Joe takes to stalking both she and her burly fiance. Henry beats him up.
Events reach their grim conclusion at the old quarry when, with a superhuman effort, Joe dislodges a huge boulder, intending for it to crush the life out of his rival. It takes a nasty deflection on the way down ..

Shelter: Brazil. Paul Christie spends the night at the home of Lopez, his wife and their daughter when they kindly give him refuge from a terrible storm. In the dark, he is visited in his room by one of the ladies of the house who shares his best. As he rides away next morning, he learns of the existence of a second daughter. He was lucky to catch her, actually, as she’s being consigned to a leper coloney later on today.

No More For Mary: One of Birkin’s rare and increasingly bizarre excursions into SF. Author Toby Lewis, holidaying in San Bernando, discovers a beautiful jewelled insect and decides it will do nicely for sister Mary who’s something big in Lepidoptera at Oxford. The “bug” is actually Zeon, a visitor from a far more developed and benevolent society than our own who are intent on colonising Earth by peaceful means and saving us from ourselves. After the hapless Toby has left him exposed near an ants nest, Zeon suffers a cruel and agonising death while trying to free himself of his spacesuit.
In his introduction to Tales Of Terror From Outer Space (Fontana, 1975), R. Chetwynd-Hayes writes;  “Charles Birkin has given us a new kind of invader from outer space in No More For Mary. I can only suggest you be very careful with the insecticide spray from now onwards. That over-sized bug crawling up the table leg might well have the kindest intentions.”

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Charles Birkin – The Kiss Of Death

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin – The Kiss Of Death & Other Horror Stories (Tandem, 1964, 1967)

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Introduction – Dennis Wheatley

The Kiss Of Death, “Some New Pleasures Prove”, The Hens, The Three Monkeys, The Mutation, Les Belle Dames Sans Merci, Fine Needlework, The Mouse Hole, The Kennel, “The New Ones”, Malleus Maleficarum, The Hitch, Fairy Dust, “Mon Ami, Perrot”.

For Mary Etheldreda Keswick who is so deeply interested in the horrific and the macabre.

The Kiss Of Death: An obscure island in the Philippines. In her younger days, social-climber Lady Sylvia Nicholson was engaged to Colin Howard, but “jilted him at the altar when a bigger fish swam along.” Several years later she lies in bed awaiting a midnight visit from her latest lover, Philip Dewhurst. She makes love to the man who enters in the dark …. only to discover that it isn’t Dewhurst she’s sharing her bed but her old flame, Colin. Who is now a leper …

‘Some New Pleasures Prove’: Devon. Laura Campbell’s car breaks down shortly after being stopped at a police roadblock where she was warned that sadistic killer Arthur ‘The Midnight Murderer’ Smith is on the loose having escaped from the Waymore asylum. When she chances upon Jasmine Cottage, Laura thinks her troubles are over – until, watching the ten o’clock news, she realises that her genial host fits the description of the man the police are looking for.

Fine Needlework: Northern France. The ultra-wealthy Jacques is kept isolated from society because he’s a dangerous psychopath. A nanny, cook and a male nurse are his only company until Clarissa and Mary, guests of the absent Countess, arrive and, oh dear, the male nurse is drunk out of his brains …

‘Les Belle Dames Sans Merci’: “Take off your clothes my dear. It will not be too painful. While you are conscious the water will not be unduly cold … or would you sooner that Reed should strip you? He might well find it entertaining …”
Homosexual Conrad and his manservant, Reed, still have their uses for women, as his third wife is about to discover … Best described as “chilling”.

The Hitch: Another of Birkin’s unbearable stories concerning Nazi atrocities during World War II. Some years after the hostilities, the Wends innocently purchase a lampshade while on holiday in Bavaria. It has a peculiar design in black and blue, a benevolent Neptune overlooking some frolicking sea-horses. By some bizarre coincidence, Gretel, their loyal Jewish home-help, was married to a young man with such a design tattooed across his chest …

Malleus Maleficarum: London, The Savoy. Jeremy Vraders’ occult dabbling lead to his being assailed by tiny demonic figures which attach themselves to his person and accompany him everywhere. Anthea finds it all very fascinating and attractive, but unfortunately, mentions the wrong name in their company and they desert their host. Jokier than usual, and as such, not really my thing.

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Charles Birkin – So Pale, So Cold, So Fair

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin – So Pale, So Cold, So Fair (Tandem, 1970)


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“So Pale, So Cold, So Fair”, The Godsend, Rover, Circle Of Children, Lot’s Wife, Gideon, The Road, A Haunting Beauty, Lords Of The Refuge.

For my wife, Janet, who is allergic to all ‘unpleasantness’

A Haunting Beauty: Paris. After ending his passionate affair with celebrated dancer Jaqueline Jerot, fabulously wealthy Eugene de Coulieure announces his engagement to a young American beauty, Shirley Stewart. M. Jerot decides the wedding cannot go ahead and, having befriended the girl, deliberately drives their car off the road, throwing herself free at the last moment. As luck would have it, Shirley is thrown onto the path of a train with her head lying just so across the track …
Eugene, deeply suspicious of Jaqueline’s culpability in the death of the only woman he’s ever loved, still refuses to reunite with her. So our heroine goes for all out nasty to hurt him as much as he has her.

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Charles Birkin – The Smell Of Evil

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin – The Smell Of Evil (Tandem, 1965)

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Introduction – Dennis Wheatley

The Smell Of Evil, Green Fingers, Is There Anybody There?, The Serum Of Dr. White, The Cornered Beast, Text For Today, Ballet Negre, Little Boy Blue, “Dance, Little Lady”, The Godmothers, The Lesson, The Interloper, The Cross.

To Dennis Wheatley for all his kindly encouragement, and for my daughter, Mandy, who was made to read them all

Zombies, killer crabs (just the two: we’re not talking Guy N. Smith here), concentration camps, walled up young women, circus freaks, a one-man murder spree versus homosexuals, infanticide, castration … in other words, business as usual.

Wheatley’s introduction is priceless:

“In my introduction to Charles Birkin’s first collection of horror stories The Kiss Of Death I maintained that …”

… and then he repeats the first foreword verbatim without adding a single word by way of introducing The Smell Of Evil!

The Smell Of Evil: Trezarth, Cornwall. Baron Lebruns and his family keep themselves aloof from the villagers. The regulars at The Golden Ball decide that their boarder, Mr. Ives, a novelist is the best man to break the ice as Lebrun is a noted authority on Atlantis – surely Ive’s could mention that he was researching the legend for the follow up to his first book Nuns On The Doorstep? The Baron receives his guest cordially enough, but his beautiful niece, Sari, a mute invalid, slips him a crumpled piece of paper imploring his help.

It transpires that she is an heiress whose stubborn refusal to sign over her money has ensured her a lingering and painful death …

Green Fingers: Major Schultz conducts an affair with the widow Hilde in the shadow of Belsen. Hilde is locally famous for walking away with all the prizes at the local horticultural festival. After the war she learns how Schultz (and several ‘pretty maids all in a row”) had a hand in shaping her success when the liberated inmate, Zelini, informs the Allies why the major always had him digging away in her garden …

The Serum Of Dr. White: Nobody knows much about Dr. White’s life before his methods achieved celebrity when they were instrumental in saving the life of an American boy, although it is rumoured that he was once a concentration camp inmate. The Deckers decide that he is the only hope for their daughter, Rachel, but the serum he has used on her tumor, although initially successful, has reduced her to a deformed, imbecilic wreck. When no other Doctors can be imposed upon to treat her, the Deckers reason that only White can reverse his own treatment. After completing a world lecture tour, he turns up at their home with his dog, a lurcher, in tow. Events collude to bring about a terrible and bloody end.

The Cornered Beast: London. Leonard, the Dog-faced Boy escapes from the freak show at the decrepit Funland. Vera, a prostitute, bids her client for the evening good-night. Fate sees to it that their paths entwine, with disastrous consequences for both.

Is There Anybody There?: East Anglia. Rose Cottage has a bad name amongst the locals due to a murder that was committed there in the twenties for which a young ploughman, Adam Croft, was hung. Two retired school-mistresses, Millie Ackland and Ida Rankin have just moved in when Millie, a psychic, watches the ghosts of the main protaganists – Croft, his wife and his mistress – re-enact the drama. Millie is then confronted by Croft’s ghost who warns of reprisals if she tells anybody what she’s seen …

The Godmothers: Midhampton. Little orphan Elsie is staying with her aunt’s family while Grandad Albert Piers is in hospital. Back home, she tells the grown-ups, she has three godmothers – Madge, Dorothy and Selina – who “live on the other side of the walls of our sitting room. Grandfather has even promised to introduce her to them one day!
What a marvellous imagination the child has! And, of course, we shouldn’t read too much into the fact that old man Piers was a plasterer by trade, or that three local prostitutes mysteriously vanished in the mid-1890’s …

Ballet Negre: “We are hungry. Oh, so hungry.” Notting Hill, West London. Simon Cust, a tenacious journalist with the Daily Echo, is intent on an interview with the male and female leads in the touring ‘Ballet Negre du Port-au-Prince’. Their manager, Emanuel Louis regretfully informs him that his request is impossible to comply with, so Simon tracks them back to their hotel. Too late, he wishes he hadn’t.

The Interloper: Saint Dominique, a small island on the Carribean, is owned outright by Lavinia ‘Larry’ Mason. Larry lives there with a small coloney of women. A lesbian, she is also a man hater, having been brutally gang-raped by the SS in her youth. Her closest companion is Hermoine Woodstock, a widow whose teenage daughter Gillian has lived on the island since she was 18 months old and hasn’t seen a man in all these years – until a half-drowned, badly injured sailor is washed up on the shore …

‘Dance Little Lady’: Juvenile delinquents Buzz, Lofty and Rosie are trying to evade the police after a run-in with west Indian youths in The Golden Plover. They break into a building and contrive to get themselves locked in for the night. Turns out it’s a mortuary. Still, they’ve plenty of booze, a transistor radio, a good-looking stiff to dance with, and Rosie’s apparently a soft touch …

Text For Today: Rev. Herbert Wessel and wife May are on missionary work in Namavava. The living is idyllic until a rapist is murdered by members of his victim’s outraged family. The killers are caged awaiting trial when one of the Reverend’s boys has a Bible-inspired bright idea and resolves to help the Holy pair overcome their language difficulties …

Little Boy Blue: Cleeness, Lincolnshire. Moira Lattern takes son Oliver to a holiday home to recuperate after an illness. Oliver is soon playmates with Sammy, another youngster who Moira at first takes to be her little boy’s imaginary friend. A photograph in an old album of a lad in a sailor suit soon disillusions her of this and, after a leisurely build-up, the story picks up a gear as it moves toward its inevitable horrifying climax on the quicksands.

The Lesson: Oscar Landmore gets drunk at Rupert and Gina’s party. Their son, little Milo, is fond of his uncle Oscar because he always plays games with him, and tonight is no exception. Milo ties ‘the Martian leader’ to a chair and goes off to bed. Rupert finds him but decides to leave him there as a lesson while he and his wife go out to pick up a takeaway. It’s only on the way back that Rupert remembers that Oscar has a plastic bag tied over his head. Frantic, he puts his foot down, and …

The Cross: The mercy killing of La-Li, a puny little creature and one of few who survived the conquest of their revolting little planet. One of Birkin’s relatively rare excursions into Science Fiction. cheerfully misanthropic.

Reissued by Valancourt, 2013, with new introduction by Lord John Llewellyn Probert.

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Charles Birkin (ed.) – Tandem Book Of Ghost Stories

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin (ed.) – The Tandem Book Of Ghost Stories (Tandem, 1965)

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 Here in this superb collection are weird and uncanny stories to suit every mood. Certain to chill and curdle your blood, to thrill you and send you uneasily to bed shivering with apprehension and foreboding when you turn the light out.

Here are some of the authors who wish you many sleepless nights …

E. M. DELAFIELD    EDITH OLIVIER
M. F. K. FISHER    LADY ELEANOR SMITH!
ARTHUR MAYSE    H. R. WAKEFIELD

M. F. K. Fisher – The Lost, Strayed, Stolen
Shamus Frazer – Florinda
Edith Oliver – Dead Men’s Bones
H. R. Wakefield – The Third Coach
P. M. Hubbard – Last Time Lucky
Marguerite Steen – Cold In The Night
Charles Birkin – Zara And Zita
Flavia Richardson – Out Of The Earth
E. M. Delafield – Sophy Mason Comes Back
Arthur Mayse – The Haunted Dancers
Shamus Frazer – The Yew Tree
Lady Eleanor Smith – No Ships Pass

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Charles Birkin (ed.) – Tandem Book Of Horror

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin (ed.) – The Tandem Book Of Horror Stories (Tandem, 1965)

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Dormer Cordaianthus!

Here in this new volume of horror stories is an expertly chosen collection designed to chill the marrow, and quicken the pulse!
With nothing more than the sound of your thumping heart, you are invited to an appointment with all of the manifestations of evil. Here you will find fear-instilling tales of the Sinister and the Beastly … of the Macabre and Unimaginable Devilry … their themes ranging from Black Magic, Murder and Menace to Death and Disaster. Some of the delights guaranteed for your after enjoyment are nightmares … strange noises in the night … sudden draughts of cold air … you have been warned.
These are some of the story-tellers assembled for your uneasy pleasure .. .

JOHN BETJEMAN H. R. WAKEFIELD
GEORGE LANGELAAN SHAMUS FRAZER A. E. COPPARD

Francis King – The Puppets
H. R. Wakefield – Old Man’s Beard
Shamus Frazer – The Cyclops Juju
A. E. Coppard – Arabesque: The Mouse
Guy Preston – Thirty
Charles Birkin – The Medicine Cupboard
Hester Holland – Dormer Cordaianthus
R. Anthony – The Witch-Baiter
George Langelaan – Cold Blood
Shamus Frazer – The Fifth Mask
John Betjeman – Lord Mount Prospect

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