Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lunchtime read: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other stories

A Lodging for the Night
A poet down on his luck is sitting with friend’s playing cards when suddenly the evening takes a turn with one of the players deciding to murder another. The subject of the story Francis Villon (makes you think of villain) follows him worrying about the gallows as he leaves his friends running away from the fear of being linked to the crime. He discovers he was pick pocketed by his ‘friends’ and starts to worry that he might freeze to death like an old woman he discovers in a door way. After wandering round he manages to gain entry to an old man’s house. The old solider talks of honour and valour and tries to turn the criminally minded Villon away from a life of living in the gutter but he fails. The fear of the gallows is nowhere near as strong as the desire to steal and support a life of irresponsibility.

The Suicide Club part one
A prince and his friend enjoy dressing up in disguise and trawling through the streets of London. They come across a young man who reveals he is planning suicide and that he has paid his membership dues to the suicide club where they pick not just the victim but also the murderer. The prince and friend are appalled at the way depressed men are compromised into becoming murderers. But there is something also addictive about the thrill of the potential of losing your life on the turn of a card. The prince returns for the second night and picks the wrong card and is prepared for his death. His friend however rounds up the members of the club and liquidates the society saving the life of the prince. That ends the first part but the adventures continue.

By now, with a few stories into this collection, there is a sense of style. It reminds you in terms of the landscape of Poe and Conan Doyle but at the same time there is a lighter touch here with a more moral message. There are several biblical references throughout the text that give the impression that not everyone is necessarily evil from start to finish.

More tomorrow…

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