Thursday, May 08, 2008

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

The Suicide Club part II
The prince of Bohemia tries to control the activities of the president of the suicide club but those he chooses to chaparone him end up being killed and in the end the only way to bring the matter to a head is to face the murderer in a duel.

Before it gets to that part though there are a couple of chapters that both have fantastic twists and show off how inventive a plot maker Stevenson is. He manages to use the same devices of disguise and innocent embroilment in something very dark without it ever feeling repetitive.

The Suicide Club is really an excuse for a murderer to enjoy lying his trade and introducing others into the web of guilt that spreads out from being involved and complicit in the act of killing. At the end there is a sense of relief that the prince has killed his great rival but a sense that here was potentially a great literary feud like Holmes and Moriarty that could have been kept going longer.

Thrawn Janet
This is very Edgar Allan Poe with a vicar on a remote part of Scotland intervening to save a woman the other villagers describe as a witch only to come home from seeing and chasing the devil in a graveyard to find him possessing the woman. He wakes to find her corpse on the door and it is only as he calls on God and lightening strikes her down that she finally stops coming after the vicar. As a result he remains God fearing and frightens the villagers with his warnings against the devil. Nearly the entire story is told in a Scottish dialect, which reminds you of some of the techniques used by Kipling.

More tomorrow...

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