Comparative Anatomy: The Best of Stephen Gallagher

Stephen Gallagher. Subterranean, $45 (568p) ISBN 978-1-64524-070-9

Subterranean’s Best of series does justice to an undeservedly obscure genre author, here highlighting the ways Gallagher (The Bedlam Detective) renders ingenious concepts and fully realized characters, both human and supernatural, through lambent prose. Gallagher’s recurring hero Sebastian Becker, an Edwardian-era Special Investigator for the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy, makes a welcome return in the unexpectedly moving “One Dove,” in which inquiries into a suicide by the recipient of a lock of hair and a pressed flower expose a series of crimes. “The Governess” is a brilliant sequel to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger stories. Gallagher deepens the personalities of Challenger and his friend turned son-in-law, Edward Malone, and brilliantly blends the chilling and the heart-breaking; the two men have become estranged, despite their many shared adventures, but Malone reaches out for help after a disturbing experience with a ghost. Three of these 30 tales have never before been published, including the masterful “Shepherds’ Business,” in which a doctor moves to a remote British island in 1947, where he gradually discovers horrors beyond his wildest imagining. Fans of Arthur Machen and Stephen King will be especially captivated. (July)
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