Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates: and Other Tales from the Lost Years
by Brian Lumley
Review by Andrew Brooks
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765323385
Date: 21 July 2009 List Price $23.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Brian Lumley's famous Harry Keogh is back for more paranormal action in the author's latest, Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates. The book is actually two novellas and one very short story, involving Old Man Death and an early encounter with The Necroscope. For long time fans, and even those new to the story, this collection contains three stories previously unpublished in the United States. But that's not necessarily a good thing, as the stories' brevity and rushed pacing make these tales seem a bit thin.
The first novella, "For The Dead Travel Slowly", centers on a mysterious monster that has been terrorizing the locals for centuries. Harry has taken a brief respite from his work with the government and is staying with childhood friend Jimmy Collins, when he becomes entangled in the whole thing. Of course, being The Necroscope, he sticks his nose right in and gets to work trying to figure out how he can help. Sensing that things are amiss through his ability to hear deadspeak, Harry delves into a case involving said ancient Evil Thing, a love triangle and a town's long history of missing persons and numerous suicides. Sounds cool, huh?
Unfortunately, the whole thing comes across as preposterous and contrived at times. Very weak dialogue and some pointless exposition literally bring this story to a halt before it even begins. Harry's interactions with the other characters, all of which come across as two-dimensional, stretch the limits of believability. Granted this is a story that involves a centuries old tree monster and a hero who can not only communicate with the dead, but also allow them to possess his body to perform different tasks. However, the whole thing comes off as silly in the way it's presented here. The plot seems forced, and Harry's inner thoughts and reasoning were often conflicting. After running into a man who claims that his long missing girlfriend was taken by a supernatural killer, Harry is at first disbelieving. The guy who's made his living interacting with all things supernatural?
The second novella, "Harry and the Pirates", was a bit better. Harry stumbles upon the spirit of a long dead pirate who is interested in telling The Necroscope an interesting tale. During the telling of the pirate's tale Harry begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems, as his ability to hear the dead goes through weird fluxes and he experiences strange headaches. While the mystery behind the pirate's story takes up the second half of this story, it's the actual monster/creature involved in Billy Browen tale that proves the more interesting. In fact, it was a fairly creative way of blending a tale about pirates with one involving entities from beyond. While this was good, the problems with the previous story were present in this one as well. Unbelievably dialogue and a rushed pace.
The third story, two and a half pages short, tells of Death first meeting Harry Keogh as a small child. The description of Death walking down a street filled with his future clients was fascinating, but the story is over before it begins.
Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates will likely appeal to long time fans of the series, but it did nothing for a first timer who'd heard heaps of praise beforehand. The elements of The Necroscope's world seem to be perfect for a fantasy/horror series epic, but the execution fell flat. Perhaps with length this series serves as a better read, and I may give one of the novels a read through in the future, but this just wasn't my thing.