Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Amulet

The modern versions of two genres I love, the private detective story and the horror tale, trace many of their standard tropes back to a common birthplace, the pulp fiction outlets of the 1930s. While H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Seabury Quinn were providing the template for fright fare to come in Weird Tales, Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammet and others were creating the hard-boiled detective in Black Mask. It seems very natural, therefore, that there would be attempts to merge the two. One of the latest, and one of the best, is William Meikle’s recently launched Midnight Eye series. The Amulet is the first in this series.

Derek Adams is a private eye in Glasgow, Scotland (Meikle is a Scotsman transplanted to Canada) with all the hallmarks of a classic private eye. He’s somewhat sick of the world, has a love-hate relationship with the city in which he lives, a penchant for one-liners, and a certain code of honor that doesn’t allows coincide with the law. One day, a beautiful dame comes into his office. She wants Derek to track down a lost family heirloom. A routine case, except this heirloom, the titular amulet, has mystic powers to reach beyond our reality, and the stars are coming into alignment to allow someone with the amulet and the will and knowledge to use it to open a gateway and allow the Old Ones to return to earth. This would be good for the Old Ones, not so good for the rest of us.

Meikle has done a good job with something any writer attempting a classic PI story must do: make the city in which it is set a vital character. Glasgow lives, in all its beauty and ugliness, in this book. The writer flows well, and the story is kept concise and lean. It is easy to read in one or two sittings. His PI character fits well into the pantheon of Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer, while the eldritch elements of the plot would do Lovecraft proud. I ordered the second book in the series, The Sirens, when I was about halfway through this one, and I certainly hope Mr. Meikle continues with the adventures of Derek Adams.

Thoroughly and wholeheartedly recommended.


jimbo52 said...

thanks mate, for the review I'm glad you liked it. The sequel is great as well

williemeikle said...

What Jim said :)

Glad you liked it, hope you like The Sirens equally as well. Black Death Books currently have the 3rd, The Skin Game, on their submissions pile.

KentAllard said...

Jim: Thanks for the recommendation. I probably wouldn't have found this one if you hadn't told me about it, which would have been my loss.

Mr. Meikle: Thanks for writing it. I'm starting The Sirens now, and I'll be looking forward to The Skin Game. I'm trying to get a write-up about the Derek Adams series into the local paper, but the paper may fold before I manage it. Such are the times.

williemeikle said...

I've also sold a Midnight Eye short story for publication in the CTHULHU 2012 anthology from Mythos Books next year, so look out for that :)

KentAllard said...

I already had that collection on my radar, but that gives me even more incentive to buy it.