You do not talk of him. You try not to think or dream of him. You turn your face from that column in the morning edition of The Times, and forget the body found last night in St James’ Park. But you know that he was there, and your appetite for those devilled kidneys has gone.
There are things that you have done, people who you have crossed… You push your breakfast plate away and ring for the maid. It is time to visit your aunt, far away to the north in Cumbria. A sudden whim, of course, no particular reason.
London is not as it was last week. Mr Dry is in town.
This is an unashamed entry about my psychic detective stories, because I’m pleased to say that The Intrusion, a short story featuring Edwin Dry, is now available to download.
It’s free, and in a number of formats, but I think the Kindle .mobi layout looks best. If you fancy a read, go to:
A substantial number of my stories and novels are part of Tales of the Last Edwardian. They tend to be complete in themselves, but are linked by a series of characters. About which, more later.
The series currently includes two draft novels (one of which was finished, but I lost the middle section when moving house!), and a number of short stories. Some of the latter are being published in ebook form as I work my way through the piles of paper around my computer, and some are awaiting US decisions. Yes, I did say paper. I started writing on an electric typewriter, for goodness sake. And my early Amstrad PCW green-screen files are mostly lost or corrupt. The lovely days of Locoscript, when a megabyte of memory would have been the size of a fridge…
Almost all of the tales include aspects of spiritualism, the occult or other psychic phenomena, especially at their late Victorian and Edwardian height. They reflect the work of the early psychic detectives, and thus cross into crime fiction in the process. A world of gas-light and lobotomies, electric pentacles and the garotte.
The timeline runs from around the Second Boer War (1899 – 1902), through the Edwardian age and into the horrors of the Great War and its aftermath. It continues in and after World War Two, until it reaches the present day. The phrase The Last Edwardian will explain itself in the later stories.
They are, discounting any whimsical touches I might use in writing them, fairly dark tales of murder, possession, fanaticism, abuse and suchlike. More blood than ectoplasm, let’s put it that way.
Here are a few of the characters which crop up more than once:
Henry Dodgson. One of the four regulars who took dinner with Thomas Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, at Cheyne Walk. A veteran of the Transvaal and certain episodes in South Africa that he would like to forget. After Carnacki’s death, reluctantly drawn into the field of the psychic investigator.
Abigail Jessop. Niece of one of the other chaps who visited Cheyne Walk. Strong-minded and sensitive to many forms of psychic disturbance, human or otherwise. Far more gifted, and better read, than Dodgson, but not as good a shot. A progressive and occasionally difficult woman (according to some of the men she meets, of course).
Dr Alice Urquhart. Resident alienist at High Helmsley Asylum. Trained in Europe where women had more opportunities in the field, familiar with Freud and others, now practising in Great Britain.
Mr Dry. A small, inoffensive figure with pale eyes and a waist-size slightly too large for his liking. If he has a background of note, or any training, no-one knows. He kills people. He has little interest in psychic matters, and even less interest in the people he kills. Everyone should have a trade.
Catherine Weatherley. A powerful and experienced Yorkshire spiritualist, quite capable of conning people by telling them what they want to hear. Also quite capable of identifying major disturbances of the soul.
Captain Redvers Blake. An officer in Military Intelligence, a minor sensitive. Involved in identifying agents of the Kaiser, Bolsheviks, Anarchists and Fenians – anyone who might compromise Britain’s military security. And deciding on their disposal, if required. Special Branch, freedom, or the noose.
For those of a geographical disposition, the stories are set in London, Yorkshire and various other nooks and crannies around Great Britain. My use of the Yorkshire setting is, surprisingly, not to do with it being the land of my birth. It’s because Keighley in West Yorkshire was where Britain’s first spiritualist newspaper was started – The Yorkshire Spiritualist Telegraph.
So, if you like that sort of thing, try reading The Intrusion, and if you want more, sign up to greydogtales.com with your email address to be notified when the next story is available. All comments gratefully received.
That should be enough for now. Or even too much. Ah, that far-off Edwardian world where you could send a postcard and receive the reply in the same day. Who needed email?