A conscious corpse relates the events leading up to his murder at the Summer Tentacular H.P. Lovecraft convention in Providence, R.I., in Mamatas’s (The Last Weekend) humorous but sometimes meandering horror mystery. Antagonistic narrator Panossian, hated by many in the Lovecraft fan community, was found dead with his face missing. Just before he was killed, he was meeting someone who had offered to buy his copy of a rare book bound in human skin. Panossian’s convention roommate, Colleen Danzig, searches for his killer among the event’s eclectic and neurotic attendees: control freak convention organizer and Lovecraft scholar Bhanushali, racist Cthulhu cosplayer Ronald Ranger, drag queen Ms. Phantasia, stalker groupie Chloe, and Cthulhu cultist and chauvinist Norman. She also meets Thomas, the night coroner, who likes to doodle Lovecraft creatures. Things get weirder when Colleen and bookseller Hiram Chandler follow Bhanushali to dig up Lovecraft’s dead cat, whose name is a racist slur. When Bhanushali’s lieutenant, Charles Cudmore, is found dead behind the hotel, detective Antony Amato suspects a serial killer. Mamatas provides a heartfelt homage to Lovecraft lore, perfectly captures the antics of conventioneers, and comments on the cutthroat politics of online publishing and the recent discussions of Lovecraft’s bigoted views. However, chapters of the deceased Panossian waxing nostalgic divert the action, and Colleen’s sleuthing involves too much speculation and too little delving for solid answers. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016 Release date: 08/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.