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                                                    BOOK REVIEW - BRIAN LUMLEY – NECROSCOPE. 1988 Harper/Collins. 

 

Imagine the John Le Carre or Len Deighton espionage world infested with vampires and Cthulhu monsters. Imagine that spies did not use James Bond gadgetry, but God Like psychic abilities and occult powers. This is the world of The Necroscope.  Here, MI5 mystical spies fight their paranormal forces wielding KGB counter-parts in a very strange Cold War indeed. A mad Russian spy, possessed by the spirit of a spectral Dracula like vampire, (or Whampyre as Lumley prefers to spell it), comes close to destroying the world.  Even the dead cannot escape his torture tactics. He resurrects their souls in order to continue his interrogations and torments. In England, Harry Keogh, the hero of the book and its sequels, has a much more pleasant approach to communicating with the deceased. He is terribly nice tot hem all, sympathetic to their deaths, and eager to listen to their stories. He is a very different kind of super (natural) spy to the Russian villain of the piece. Keogh’s investigations draw him to knowledge of mathematics and he is drawn into a weird dimension between the folds of time and space, from which he has the ability to literally raise armies of zombies to his bidding. However, he has difficulty returning to the real world fully, and much of his adventure is narrated to his successor at MI5 after Keogh’s disappearance. His enemy is a powerful one, able to use psychic assassins, such as the man with the evil eye, who is able to literally stare and scare people into having heart attacks as they die of sheer fright. The story is on one level, preposterous, and Keough has so unlimited a range of powers by the end of the story that he is virtually God-like, but Lumley presents the story with charm and genuine excitement so that its extreme far-fetchedness actually works in its favour. The book can be read as horror, (and when frightening it really is frightening) or as satire on the terribly English nature of the spy story. It has proved popular enough to spawn a host of sequels from one of the most eccentric, entertaining and unlikely of horror authors writing today.

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Arthur Chappell

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