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Friday, March 17, 2017

The Bureau of Lost Souls

by Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Century Hutchinson (1989)

Hardcover 244 pages

Finished 3/17/2017

Amazon Listing 




 
          “She ran for the kitchen and the knife rack above the sink as he appeared behind her in a showering explosion of plaster and wooden staves. For a second she caught sight of him striding across the room through a spray of dust, and the madness which glittered behind his blood-streaked eyes spurred her on.”
          This is a collection of twelve horror stories from a veteran horror writer. The cover flap states that the tales are linked, but I found no real evidence of that, except that each is in an urban setting. It has been pointed out that most English horror seems to be set in the city, while American horror tends to drift out to the rural wilds, or the false face of a peaceful suburban scene.
Author Christopher Fowler
          While they are solid enough on their own, I have to say that they do not add much to the genre. With many of them I knew the ending three pages into the story and just kept reading hoping that my assumptions would be wrong. They were not. The horror elements here are human for the most part, the author eschewing supernatural elements for the more gritty tales of urban decay and paranoia.
          There were a few exceptions of above average stories. “Jumbo Portions” about a man accidently falling into a deep fryer has some gruesome details that might appeal. “Lost in Leicester Square” about police investigation into disappearing tourists, which may or may not be linked to vampires, is amusing. “Safe as Houses” about an obsessive security-conscious perfectionist is also fun. Plus the titular “Bureau of Lost Souls” is perhaps the cream of the crop.
          But again that’s not really saying much. Standard horror here. I don’t see myself reading this text again.

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