Thursday, August 25, 2011

The cover for NUELOW's "Names in the Black Book"

A host of computer problems this week has caused us to fall a little behind schedule here at NUELOW Central. The hope was to have our latest Robert E. Howard anthology available for download yesterday, but instead it will be sometime today. The ROLF! supplement will appear Saturday or Sunday, instead of Friday, as we had planned.

The good news is it gave me time to rethink the title of the Steve Harrison anthology... while he may be a detective in the River Street Precinct, only one story in the book actually takes place anywhere near River Street. So, that title simply didn't work!

But here's the cover for "Names in the Black Book," a small anthology featuring a trio of Robert E. Howard stories about Detective Steve Harrison and some particularly bone-chilling cases.

An interesting bit of trivia about the story from which the book draws its name: It's actually a sequel to a story that didn't see print during Howard's short career and lifetime.

The editors of "Strange Detective Stories" apparently rejected the first Steve Harrison adventure, "Lord of the Dead," but bought this sequel and two other Harrison tales--"The People of the Serpent" [which they published as "Fangs of Gold"] and "The Secret of the Tomb." The latter tale, they revised so it starred "Brock Rollins" instead of Steve Harrison.

That said, "Names in the Book of the Dead" works perfectly fine on its own. The tales here shows that Howard could write detective fiction as well as he wrote horror and fantasy... even if the detective adventures presented here overlap quite a bit with the horror genre.

By the way, these are some of the stories that critics point to when they say Howard's writing is racist. While I certainly agree that his tendency toward casual racism is in full force in all three stories--even more clearly as they all involve ethnic communities of one kind or another. I would like readers to notice that the hero, Officer Harrison, is not a racist. The same can't be said of the villains in "Graveyard Rats."

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