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The Strange Cases Of Rudolph Pearson
William Jones
Chaosium paperback $14.95

review by Mario Guslandi

Rudolph Pearson, professor of English at Columbia University, and brainchild of the writer William Jones, is the latest addition to the long list of supernatural sleuths who have entertained genre readers for decades. Teaming with police detective Matthew Leahy and lady friend Jordan Gabriel, Pearson appears in ten stories collected for the first time in one volume by Chaosium. Although they can be read as independent episodes, the stories form a kind of continuum, making the book a kind of cross between a collection and a novel.

The two stories which bookend the volume, Feasters In The Dark and Through The Eye Of A Needle, set the dark tone of the series by vividly depicting the deeds of a group of sin-eaters lurking in the New York city sewers. Endowed with psychic powers himself, the brave professor is involved in a number of adventures of Lovecraftian flavour, revealing, step by step, the existence of terrible alien forces and of a malicious plot aimed at opening for them the gate to our world. The man behind this project, the evil mind pulling the strings of the conspiracy, is Professor Gregor Van Eych. The final confrontation between Pearson and Van Eych is described with graphic quality in An Ancient Summoning, a kind of very enjoyable supernatural action tale.

In between, we observe the disappearance of a professor of physics stepping into another world (The Transgressions Of Effram Harris), encounter a devilish hound summoned from another world to bringing death in Manhattan (Shadow Of The Past), feel disquiet in the presence of a crazy inmate of a Manhattan mental institution who acts as a catalyst allowing the dead to return to earth to exact their revenge (The Whispering Dead).

In Haunted Horror, bad memories of the war come alive once again through a horrific creature, and in the delightful The Missing Curiosity we learn about the events concerning the stealing of a precious, peculiar chest. While The Mysterious Millionaire offers a very effective mix of pulp and supernatural fiction involving all the main characters of the series, to me, the best story remains Harami, an atmospheric dark tale set in Morocco featuring the precious chest and an unusual cat.

Cleverly blending the horrors of the Cthulhu mythos, the atmosphere of hard-boiled fiction and the mysteries of magic and supernatural, Jones has created a winning combination bidding fair to become not just an item for genre enthusiasts but a little classic in dark fiction, hopefully to be followed by more stories in the near future.
The Strange Cases of Rudolph Pearson

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