FORGOTTEN BOOK: Run from the Hunter by Keith Grantland (Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin), 1957

The "wrong man" suspense novel Run from the Hunter takes place around Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, which makes it a fun, fast read for this time of year.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 176th in my series of Forgotten Books.

As I write this, Mardi Gras is being celebrated across the country and in New Orleans with fine gusto. I have never been to the various parades and such since I dislike large crowds and drunken revelries as a general rule. But I have friends who are there right now collecting beads, listening to blues and jazz and eating some mighty fine food.

So I decided to celebrate Mardi Gras in a different way by reading a mystery set during Mardi Gras, though in Mobile, Alabama. In Run from the Hunter, Chris Adams is a former columnist for the Mobile Messenger who has been convicted of killing his former girlfriend Steffany Fontaine. There seems to be a motive, since she was running around on him. Adams is innocent and a bartender should have provided the alibi, but, for some reason, the bartender lied and now Adams is on his way to prison via railroad.

Mobster Frank Giogio is on the same train with the same destination intended. But he confides in Adams that the train will be derailed in four minutes. Adams tries to alert the police who do not believe anything he says. They should have listened.

Giorgio is killed when the bridge over the swamp is blown up, as are several policemen. But Adams survives and manages to get the handcuff key and escape into the dark and the bayou. The police are definitely going to be following him.

In the darkness, he manages to find a run-down house and takes shelter. But he is soon surprised by a young woman with a rifle. His case is now well known and the young woman, Loni Gaillard, recognizes him. And so does her mother. Adams tells his story and Mrs. Gaillard believes him. Besides, the rifle has no bullets.

Adams is allowed to sleep the night before he’s sent to see Jericho, an old man who agrees to help him. Jericho has an old Deusenberg that they use to go back to Mobile. Meanwhile, tracking Adams is Lieutenant Carr, the police homicide detective who built the case against him. Turns out, Carr was also one of Steffany’s suitors. He took her death pretty badly and has vowed to track Adams down.

Since it’s Mardi Gras and Adams is afraid of being recognized, he and Jericho stop for costumes, a pirate costume for Adams and a skeleton for Jericho. Adams contacts his former boss, Sheridan “Sherry” Paige, for help. They track down the bartender to question him about his perjury, only to find him dead. Things seem to be progressing poorly for Adams as the police keep getting closer and closer.

Run from the Hunter is a pretty nice suspense and mystery novel, which Beaumont began but turned over to his friend Tomerlin to finish. The duo worked together on the final draft and polish. The original edition was published by Gold Medal under the Keith Grantland name, which Tomerlin says in his introduction to the Centipede Press edition was from the middle names of each of their sons. There were two printings from Gold Medal and a hardback edition in the UK from Boardman. I’ve had both the Gold Medal printings, which had different covers, and I recently acquired the Centipede Press edition, which is very nice and contains a decent short story, “Moon in Gemini,” by the pair.

I have read a lot of Beaumont’s short fiction. I’ve got his solo novel The Intruder, which was filmed in the early 60’s with William Shatner in the lead. I haven’t read it yet, though it has a good reputation. The quality of Beaumont’s short work gives me hope for it. The film version was made by Roger Corman and is one of the few Corman films to not make a profit. IMDB shows a 7.8 out of ten rating for the film. Apparently Beaumont, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson all have bit parts in it.

Centipede Press also did a recent edition of that novel, which is the edition I have. They make very nice books. They are expensive but the quality that goes into the finished product is always worthwhile.

So enjoy your Mardi Gras and have a wonderful weekend. Check out Run from the Hunter if you get the chance. It’s a worthy novel that deserves a larger audience.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.


Forgotten Book: Harry O. Morris by Harry O. Morris (2015)

Harry O. Morris

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 169th in my series of Forgotten Books.

Years ago I first encountered the force of nature that is Harry O. Morris in the pages of the long gone and deeply missed fanzine Nyctalops. I received an issue for my birthday and it was filled with more information and visual stimulation than you should legally be allowed to have. The issue I got was devoted to the work of Clark Ashton Smith, though Lovecraft was the fanzine’s primary focus.

Then I saw some of his art at the World Fantasy Convention in Ft. Worth in 1978. It was so wildly different from everything else on exhibit there that, broke person which I was, I ended up buying two photo collages for my personal collection. I know that I still have one of them and maybe the second too.

I later met Harry in person at ArmadilloCon and he was every bit as weird and cool as you could expect. Eventually he married my friend Christine Pasanen and they were a lovely match. I visited them once in Albuquerque and it was great!

Recently, Jerad Walters, the madman behind Centipede Press, published this amazing artbook/biography of Harry. Filled with literally hundreds of photos of artwork from fanzines and book covers. And the introduction from Thomas Ligotti, a writer I first encountered through Harry’s work, is worth the price of admission alone.

One of Morris' book covers

I’m not going to talk much about the book. It is extraordinary and out of print from the publisher, though a few copies are still floating around out there in Webland. It’s a little expensive (not really) because it is filled with lots of heavy paper and color pictures. I’m going to post a photo of Harry and some of his work. This does not really begin to give you an idea of its brilliance. He works with pens, ink, colors, collage, photo emulsions and maybe magic.

If you are looking for the perfect present for that weird friend (who may even be yourself), give them this book. Offer a double or nothing deal if they don’t like it. You won’t have to pay up.

Happy Holidays to everyone out there. And remember, if it ain’t weird, you’re not trying hard enough.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.


Forgotten Book: Fat Face by Michael Shea (1997)

Would you trust this face? Maybe not such a good idea.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 158th in my series of Forgotten Books.

I first discovered the work of Michael Shea in 1980 when I read “The Autopsy” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was grisly and mesmerizing. He had published one earlier novel A Quest for Simbilis in 1974 as a homage/sequel to Jack Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld but I had not read that. Shortly thereafter I read “Polyphemus” in F&SF and knew I had found a masterful writer.

I discovered H. P. Lovecraft in 1967 with one of the Lancer collections of short stories (probably The Dunwich Horror, but I’m not sure anymore) and had my fling with Lovecraftian horror for the next ten years, including a brief stint in a Lovecraft amateur press association (APA) called The Esoteric Order of Dagon. I stayed there for three or four mailings and found that a) there were people with much deeper devotions to Lovecraft, Howard, Smith and Hodgson than I would ever have, b) they produced some amazing scholarship and 3) as a working student I did not have the time, money or energy to continue in that environment.

But the love still stays.

So, in 1987 when Fat Face came out from Axoltotl Press in a limited edition, I picked it up. A Lovecraftian horror story by a master is always worth your time. And it was.

Michael Shea won a couple of World Fantasy Awards for the novel Nifft the Lean (1983) and novella for The Growlimb in 2006 and was nominated for a lot of awards. He was always on my radar. So I was shocked last year when he died suddenly. And now I wanted to read something again.

So Fat Face, a novella stared out of my bookshelf at me. Michael Shea and Lovecraftian horror with a Shea sensibility seemed like a winner. It began calling to me at night. “Scott!” It said. “Read me! Or Face My WRATH!!”

Not wanting to face that wrath, I read it again the other night. It’s short, which is a definite plus. And it does not read like a Lovecraftian piece. There are no words like eldritch or ichor or even blasphemous in the story.

It’s the story of Patti, a young hooker who is out of her depth. Her man has moved out of the massage parlor when she objected to how some of her customers found themselves dead shortly after a visit. So, she is back on the streets, working out of a seedy motel. She’s OK with that, maybe even bored.

A fancy gift for any Shea enthusiast: The Autopsy and Other Stories.

She and her friend Sherri keep trying to imagine what it would be like to be gone and away from it all, but that takes too much energy so she continues on. She knows all the street regulars, all losers. And she is fascinated by a man she can only see from his fourth floor window. She calls him Fat Face, but that is not meant harshly. She finds his face calming, even beatific. She imagines him as an angelic figure. The building houses an animal rescue, so he must be a good man.

She and Sherri make a bad move one day, leaving him something approaching a friend letter, not quite a love letter. But it brings his interest to them and bad things begin to happen.

If you want more, the novella is generally available. There is a Kindle version for less than a buck, and it is in several collections.

Now, if you are a Michael Shea fan, you can look for The Autopsy and Other Tales (2008) from Centipede Press. This is a beautiful book, signed, numbered, heavily illustrated and a massive collection of Shea which also includes his novel The Color Out of Time, another Lovecraftian tale worth your while. Unfortunately this one is out of print and, since it was expensive to begin with, copies are pricey. But, man, it is worth it.

So, some brief words to live by. Check out Michael Shea. Check out The Autopsy and Other Tales. Check out Centipede Press. You will not go wrong.

And, as regularly stated, my taste is all in my mouth and your mileage may vary.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.