cover image  Old Devil Moon

Old Devil Moon

Christopher Fowler, . . Serpent's Tail, $14.95 (296pp) ISBN 978-1-85242-925-6

British author Fowler, best known for his Bryant and May impossible crimes series (White Corridor , etc.), scores another triumph with his eclectic 10th short story collection. Highlights include “The Lady Downstairs,” a Sherlockian pastiche told from the perspective of the great detective's long-suffering landlady, Mrs. Hudson, and the grim revenge story, “The Threads,” in which an arrogant British tourist to North Africa gets his comeuppance. The amusing parody “That's Undertainment!” brutally eviscerates modern popular culture. “Old Friends,” an effective modern ghost story, pays homage to such late British film greats as Terry-Thomas and Diana Dors. John Wyndham would've appreciated the concise but horrific “The Spider Kiss,” in which an outbreak of insane human behavior in Miami proves to have its origins in the animal kingdom. “Exclusion Zone” focuses on a father's estrangement from his daughter's anarchic rebellion. Fans of all genres will be impressed by the 22 well-written, often moving selections. (Aug.)