Mr. Cannyharme: A Novel of Lovecraftian Terror

Michael Shea. Hippocampus, $45 (298p) ISBN 978-1-61498-325-5; $20 trade paper ISBN 978-1-61498-324-8
Though Shea (The Color Out of Time), who died in 2014, drafted this wild ride of a weird tale in 1981, it reads with a freshness that transcends its period setting. Its lead character, Jack Hale, works as night clerk at a residency hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District. A writer by avocation who spends the wee hours wired on crank and hacking out a pulp romance novel on his typewriter, Jack begins noticing bizarre behavior among the hotel’s down-and-out residents, much of it apparently influenced by leaflets of macabre verse handed out by Mr. Cunningham, the hotel’s incalculably old pensioner (and the Cannyharme of the title). Searching for explanations in the hotel’s archives, Jack uncovers a malignant legacy from the past still virulently active in the present. Shea serves up a colorfully seedy cast of characters, and he teases with Lovecraftian references that will appeal to the weird fiction cognoscenti—though even readers not in the know will be captivated by the tale’s surreal horrors, including out-of-body (and in-someone-else’s body) experiences and confrontations with cosmic terrors. This novel has lost none of its potential to horrify in the four decades it sat unpublished. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 09/09/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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