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Tales of Jack the Ripper: Reviews Round-up

Tales of Jack the Ripper has been pulling in some outstanding reviews. Not bad for a book that’s only officially been out for less than two weeks. Here are just a few of the reviews…

JTRShelf

FEARnet.com‘s Blu Gilliand begins his review by asking the question, “is it okay to base a piece of entertainment on a real-life serial killer?” To find an answer, Blu takes an in-depth look at the anthology’s stories by Orrin Grey, Alan M. Clark & Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe R. Lansdale, Patrick Tumblety, and Walter Greatshell, then concludes, “What Lockhart has done with this anthology is to show that the Jack the Ripper story has grown far beyond who- or whatever murdered those women all those years ago. It’s become a myth, grounded in fact, and the reason it continues to hold power over us today is because we still don’t understand what happened, or why, and we likely never will. Stories like that are the stories that continue to frighten us, and until we can banish those shadows forever, there will always be writers wrestling with them on the printed page. Tales of Jack the Ripper manages to walk that fine line between entertainment and exploitation with real finesse. It’s a gripping group of stories about one of our most enduring mysteries, and well worth your time.” Read the full review at FEARnet.com.

At first concerned that he may not know enough about Jack to fully appreciate the anthology, SR Jones of Martian Migraine Press examines closely the tales by Ennis Drake, Pete Rawlik, Stanley C. Sargent, Ramsey Campbell, T.E. Grau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Laird Barron, E. Catherine Tobler, Joe R. Lansdale, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. Admittedly thrown off by some of the anthology’s more experimental pieces, Jones awards Jack a five-star review, saying, “Editor Ross Lockhart (Book of Cthulhu and Book of Cthulhu 2, Chick Bassist) has done a stand-out job with Tales of Jack the Ripper. This one’s going out to certain names on my Christmas list, that’s for sure. You know the ones. With their ‘funny little games’. Recommended.” Read the full review at Martian Migraine Press.

Shock Totem‘s Mason Ian Bundschuh writes “There is a definite ‘weird tale’ edge to many of the stories (and poems) in the anthology, which in this reader’s opinion is a GREAT thing. It might even be expected from Lockhart, who also brought you The Book of Cthulhu and its follow-up, The Book of Cthulhu 2. This doesn’t mean you can pigeonhole Tales of Jack the Ripper.” Bundschuh singles out stories by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ramsey Campbell, and Mercedes M. Yardley for their chilling excellence, concluding, “you need to get up off your lazy duff and buy this collection.” Read the full review at Shock Totem.

The Arkham Digest‘s Justin Steele ponders our societal fascination with serial killers and the Ripper’s legacy, finding insight in Orrin Grey’s tale “Ripperology.” Other stories considered and ruminated upon under Steele’s eye include those by Ramsey Campbell, Alan M. Clark & Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe R. Lansdale, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ennis Drake, T.E. Grau, Ed Kurtz, Edward Morris, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Pete Rawlik, Stanley C. Sargent, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Laird Barron. Steele concludes, “Tales of Jack the Ripper marks a strong debut for Word Horde. Lockhart, in usual fashion, has managed to put together a strong, multifaceted anthology that explores the Ripper legend at length. If this book is indicative of what’s to be expected from his new press, than readers have much to look forward to.” Read the full review at The Arkham Digest.

Editor Ross E. Lockhart

The Arkham Digest have also just featured Steele’s interview with Tales of Jack the Ripper editor and Word Horde publisher/editor-in-chief Ross E. Lockhart. This interview includes not only insights into Lockhart’s aesthetic and goals in putting together Tales of Jack the Ripper, but a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Word Horde’s origins and future. Check out the full interview at The Arkham Digest.

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Originally posted at Word Horde.

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Dark Annie

The black eye was healing, but still ached. Dark Annie had Eliza Cooper to blame for that. Something about a purloined penny, some stolen soap, and that handsome pensioner, Edward Stanley. The details were fuzzy for Annie sometimes, particularly when drink was involved, though the bruises were real. This had been a tough year. John had died on Christmas, drank himself to death, then Siffey left her once the money dried up. Annie had been forced to make her living where she could, and when embroidering antimacassars and selling flowers didn’t pay bed and board, she earned what she could on the streets. Her lungs ached, and she wanted one of her pills, but she was down to just two, secured in a corner torn from an envelope because her pillbox had broken. Friends called her Dark Annie because of her dark, wavy hair. In contrast, she was a pale woman with blue eyes, short and stocky. Annie was forty-seven years old.

It was just past midnight on Saturday, September 8, 1888. Annie shared a beer in the kitchen at Crossingham’s Lodging House with Frederick Stevens, then chatted with William Stevens, both fellow lodgers at Crossingham’s. She left for her room, but changed her mind and went out into the night. Around one-forty-five, Annie returned, eating a baked potato. She explained to lodging house deputy Tim Donovan and night watchman John Evans that she didn’t have her rent money, and asked that they hold her bed until she could earn enough on the street.

At five-thirty, Elizabeth Long, a cart-minder, was walking down Hanbury Street toward Spitalfields Market. The clock at the Black Eagle Brewery chimed as she passed No. 29 Hanbury Street, briefly making eye contact with Dark Annie, chatting up a dark, “shabby genteel” fellow in a deerstalker hat. Mrs. Long overhears their conversation as she passes, the man’s ardent “Will you?” Annie, in reply, whispered “yes.”

Elizabeth Long is the penultimate person to see Dark Annie alive.

Annie Chapman’s murder was particularly violent. Her throat had been cut from left to right. She’d been disemboweled, her intestines thrown over her shoulders. Her uterus had been cut out and removed from the scene. At the September 10 police inquest, Dr George Bagster Phillips described the murder weapon: “The instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 to 8 inches in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by the slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were indications of anatomical knowledge…”

Police made several arrests following Annie’s murder, suspects included a cook, a butcher, and a hairdresser. But none of these panned out. The press, still reeling from the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, continued to sound an accusatory drum for Leather Apron, but within a few weeks, a new name would come to the forefront in the case, a named signed to a series of letters taunting the police. That name? Jack the Ripper.

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Originally posted at Word Horde

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Polly

It was the proverbial dark and stormy night. Cold rain soaked London, lightning streaked a sky already lit orange by a pair of dock fires, and thunder rumbled menacingly. Despite the inclement weather, Polly Nichols, born Mary Ann Walker some forty-three years earlier, walked the streets of Whitechapel, hoping to earn enough to pay for that night’s lodging. Polly was pretty for a girl of the streets, looking a decade younger than her true age, with delicate features, frosted brown hair, and gray eyes. For the price of a large glass of gin, one could have Polly, if one were so inclined.

And gin was Polly’s vice. Her twenty-four year marriage to William Nichols–which had produced five children–had ended in 1881 over Polly’s drinking, and the next few years found Polly bouncing from home to home, including her father’s house, a cohabitation with a blacksmith named Thomas Dew, infirmaries, “sleeping rough,” and workhouses. In May 1888, Polly found a job as a live-in servant for Sarah and Samuel Cowdry, the Clerk of Works in the Police Department. In a letter to her father, Polly writes, “It is a grand place inside, with trees and gardens back and front. All has been newly done up. They are teetotalers and religious so I ought to get on. They are very nice people, and I have not too much to do.”

But the temptations of vice and drink prove too much for Polly, and in July 1888 she leaves the Cowdrys, stealing clothing valued at three pounds, ten shillings. Polly lives at one lodging house, then another, sharing rooms and paying her doss nightly. That evening of August 30 leading into the morning of August 31, 1888, Polly had already earned her keep and spent it on drink three times.

At two-thirty on the morning of August 31, Polly meets Emily Holland, a former roommate, who would later recall that Polly was “very drunk and staggered against the wall.” As they chat, church bells chime the half-hour. Polly staggers away, heading east along Whitechapel Road. Emily is the last friendly soul Polly meets.

At about three-forty, two men, Charles Cross and Robert Paul, discover Polly’s disheveled body while on their way to work. Her skirt is raised, exposing her. Cross is sure the woman is dead, but Paul believes Polly to be alive, breathing faintly. Paul rearranges Polly’s skirts to cover her and the two men seek a policeman.

Polly is discovered shortly thereafter by constable John Neil. He is soon joined by constables Thane and Mizen, the latter of which had been summoned by Cross and Paul. The policemen call Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn to the scene, and he pronounces Polly dead at 4:00. Time of death is estimated at 3:30.

Following the police inquest into Polly’s death, The Times reported: “There was a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw on the right side of the face. That might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. There was a circular bruise on the left side of the face which also might have been inflicted by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about 1in. below the jaw, there was an incision about 4in. in length, and ran from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but an inch below, and commencing about 1in. in front of it, was a circular incision, which terminated at a point about 3in. below the right jaw. That incision completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision was about 8in. in length. The cuts must have been caused by a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.

“No blood was found on the breast, either of the body or the clothes. There were no injuries about the body until just about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. The wound was a very deep one, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. There were three or four similar cuts running downwards, on the right side, all of which had been caused by a knife which had been used violently and downwards. The injuries were from left to right and might have been done by a left-handed person. All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.”

Rumors, compounded by the press, spread throughout Whitechapel, many blaming shoemaker John Pizer, a Polish Jew known as “Leather Apron.” Although there was scant evidence, Pizer was arrested and questioned, though he was released shortly after his alibi checked out. Pizer later sued at least one newspaper and won compensation over the paper’s libelous claims that he was the murderer.

As for the real murderer, Polly would not be his last victim. And soon, the world would know his name.

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

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Recent Review Round-Up

I’ve been remiss in my review-gathering lately as we prepare for this Saturday’s official release of Tales of Jack the Ripper. So, to make up for said neglect, here’s a Recent Review Round-Up. Hopefully this influences what’s next in your to-read queue.

The Book of Cthulhu II: Electric Boogaloo

Black Gate reviews The Book of Cthulhu II, saying:

Last August, we celebrated Ross E. Lockhart’s successful anthology The Book of Cthulhu, a marvelous reprint volume collecting some of the most famous Cthulhu stories of all time. I mentioned at the time that a second volume was in the works. Now I finally have a copy in my hot little hands and I’m pleased to say it doesn’t disappoint.

The Book of Cthulhu II contains two dozen tales of cosmic horror inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, including Karl Edward Wagner’s “Sticks,” Neil Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar,” William Browning Spencer’s “The Ocean and All its Devices,” and John R. Fultz’s “This is How the World Ends.”

This thick volume also contains reprints by Michael Chabon, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, Fritz Leiber, Kim Newman, Jonathan Wood, and many others. There are also four original contributions, including the novella “Hand of Glory” by Laird Barron, which is currently on the World Fantasy Awards Ballot for best novella.

Read the full review at Black Gate.

Also reviewing The Book of Cthulhu II is Confessions of a Bibliomaniac, who provides detailed notes on all twenty-four stories, and concludes:

On the whole, I loved this collection. A lot of the stories were excellent, but like with any collection you’ll have some that were better than others. I love Neil Gaiman, but given my choice I’d put in A Study In Emerald over Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar. Its simply a better tale–though, I’ll allow, perhaps not a better tribute to the original Lovecraft. Some of the stories I flat-out disliked, but that was probably a matter of taste. Certainly they are different than the ones cited by other reviewers as having fallen flat for them. A few of the stories, good as they were on their own, probably would have been enhanced by a more thorough knowledge of Lovecraft’s works. I’ve only read a very small selection as of this writing. I plan to remedy that in the near future….I very much recommend picking up this book if you ever get the chance.

Read the whole review at Confessions of a Bibliomaniac.

Webberly Rattencraft with The Book of Cthulhu II

Late-night television personality Webberly Rattencraft, shown above with The Book of Cthulhu II (on the left!) and about two-fifths of Cave Girl Shotzi Blackheart (on the right!) recently reviewed my punk rock novel Chick Bassist on his blog The Voluptuous Horror of Facts. Quoth Webberly:

While the book is thin, the author doesn’t waste any words, setting a properly punk rock pace that pulls you right through the story without letting up. Occasional pauses to take a mental breath are recommended, as is the playing of whatever music might be mentioned in the text as you go (the Internet is the biggest jukebox in history–use it before someone ruins it completely). The use of different voices for the different points of view that the story cycles through fortunately comes across as more than just a gimmick. Each is compelling to read for a different reason as you follow along for a while in the lives of a few people who, deep down, aren’t entirely sure whether they’re on their way up or down.

Chick Bassist

Read the whole review at The Voluptuous Horror of Facts.

Think you know everything there is to know about the Whitechapel slayings? You don't know Jack!

And finally, Blu Gilliand reviews Tales of Jack the Ripper for FEARnet.com by starting with a question, asking ” is it okay to base a piece of entertainment on a real-life serial killer?” and “why does this particular killer attract so much attention?”

After examining in detail the stories by Orrin Grey, Alan M. Clark & Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe R. Lansdale, Patrick Tumblety, and Walter Greatshell, Blu concludes:

What Lockhart has done with this anthology is to show that the Jack the Ripper story has grown far beyond who- or whatever murdered those women all those years ago. It’s become a myth, grounded in fact, and the reason it continues to hold power over us today is because we still don’t understand what happened, or why, and we likely never will. Stories like that are the stories that continue to frighten us, and until we can banish those shadows forever, there will always be writers wrestling with them on the printed page.

Tales of Jack the Ripper manages to walk that fine line between entertainment and exploitation with real finesse. It’s a gripping group of stories about one of our most enduring mysteries, and well worth your time.

Read the full review at FEARnet.com

Want to review one of my books? Make your case to publicity[at]WordHorde[dot]com and we’ll see what we can do for you.

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Who Murdered Martha Tabram?

The night of August 6, 1888 in London’s Whitechapel district was dreadfully cold, windy, and rainy, so Martha Tabram spent the evening drinking at the Angel and Crown alongside her friend Pearly Poll and a pair of soldiers the two had met. Drink was a constant companion in Martha’s life; her husband Charles Tabram had left Martha over alcoholic fits in 1875, and her relationship with Henry Turner had just ended over money problems in July. So Martha and Poll got by amid the squalor and poverty by turning tricks in the world’s oldest profession.

At 11:45 that night, Martha and Poll left the pub with the soldiers, Poll taking one of the men up Angel Alley, Martha leading her soldier to George Yard, an alley off Whitechapel High Street. At about five in the morning on August 7, dockworker John Saunders Reeves discovered Martha’s body as he was leaving for work and called a neighbor, cab driver Albert George Crow, who had seen Martha’s body upon returning home from his shift at about 3:30 that morning, and dismissed it as just another sleeping vagrant.

The men called Dr. Timothy Robert Killeen to the scene. Dr. Killeen determined that Martha Tabram had been stabbed thirty-nine times with a short knife in the throat, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, stomach, abdomen, and genitals. Dr. Killeen estimated that Martha had been killed between 2:00 and 3:30 that morning. Residents denied hearing anything unusual. The police investigated, questioning an uncooperative Pearly Poll, but uncovered no solid leads. On August 23, an inquest into Martha’s death was held, and deputy coroner George Collier determined that she had been murdered by person or persons unknown.

On August 31, 1888, after another Whitechapel prostitute, Mary Ann Nichols, was killed, the London press began to draw connections between the two murders. Though the MO was different–Tabram had been stabbed with a short blade; Nichols’ throat and body were slashed with a long, sharp knife–could the same killer have been responsible for both women’s deaths? And was there a connection to the April 3 murder of yet another area prostitute, Emma Elizabeth Smith? Today, Nichols is considered the first canonical victim of Jack the Ripper, whereas Martha Tabram is largely forgotten, a footnote in a case that would grip the public’s imagination and inspire storytellers for the next 125 years.

Did Jack the Ripper murder Martha Tabram? The experts disagree. What do you think?

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

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Tales of Jack the Ripper – First Reviews

The first Amazon reviews of Tales of Jack the Ripper have started to appear, and it seems that people like our little book. Here are just a few of the things readers have said:

Ellie-and-Jack

“…a truly spellbinding collection…”

“A must have for all Ripper scholars.”

“…what this anthology truly has going for it is its relentlessness.”

“Blood starts to seep from the pages (yes, even on the Kindle), and pools around the words.”

“The ‘Must-Read’ Jack the Ripper Anthology”

“Jack the Ripper stories that will keep you up at night reading (or hiding beneath your covers).”

“These stories will have you feverously flipping pages in a hungry suspense–each holding that ‘one more page’ grip that established readers search for.”

“I suggest cutting into a copy as soon as possible…”

What can we say but, “Wow!”

Even though our official street date isn’t until August 31, Tales of Jack the Ripper is now available to order in Trade Paperback from Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, Powells, and The Book Depository. A Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack is available directly from Word Horde. Tales of Jack the Ripper is also available as an ebook for Kindle and Nook.

Thanks for reading. And if you enjoy the book, please tell your friends.

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Put Tales of Jack the Ripper on your bookshelf

August brings with it the 125th anniversary of the Whitechapel murders and the legacy of the most notorious serial killer in history: Jack the Ripper. To mark this sanguine anniversary, Word Horde presents Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems by many of the most distinct voices in dark fantasy and horror, including Laird Barron, Ramsey Campbell, Ennis Drake, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Joe R. Lansdale, E. Catherine Tobler, and many others.

JTRShelf

Now, you can put Tales of Jack the Ripper on your own bookshelf. Tales of Jack the Ripper is now available to order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and is coming soon to an independent bookstore near you (ask for Jack by name!). Or you can preorder The Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack direct from Word Horde. The Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack includes one signed Trade Paperback of Tales of Jack the Ripper, one eBook in the format of your choice, and a bloody good selection of Jack schwag. The eBook will be emailed to you when your order is processed, so you can start reading as soon as possible.

Details at: http://wordhorde.com/product/jtr-deluxe/

And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Tales of Jack the Ripper trailer author Patrick Tumblety made, do yourself a favor and hit play.

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Jack’s Back

We’re in the home stretch, with Tales of Jack the Ripper just about ready to go to the printer. To celebrate, how about a little extortion? If one hundred twenty-five of you drop by the Word Horde Facebook page and like and/or share the cover photo below, we’ll show you Jack’s back! That’s right, all you have to do is click through and LIKE or SHARE, and once we hit that magic number, we’ll reveal the back cover. Help spread the word, and help Word Horde show the world Jack’s back!

Tales of Jack the Ripper

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Literary Experiment

Literary Experiment: Read Marie Calloway’s “Adrien Brody,” picturing Brody from Predators as the male lead and Calloway as a Hish predator.

Here’s Calloway’s “Adrien Brody.”
Here’s Calloway’s debut novel, what purpose did i serve in your life.
And here’s Adrien Brody’s movie Predators.

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To SFWA or not to SFWA? That is the question.

E. Catherine Tobler is an extremely talented author. Her story “(To See the Other) Whole Against the Sky” is a 2013 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award Finalist. This fall, I’ll be publishing her ghostly tale “Once November” in my Word Horde anthology Tales of Jack the Ripper.

SFWA, also known as the Science Fiction Writers of America, “is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres.” Over the last few years, I’ve had many authors exclaim their excitement over qualifying to join SFWA because I bought a story or novel from them. I, however, am not a member of SFWA. Regardless, the organization (and its former vice president, Mary Robinette Kowal) has been a great deal of help–a lifeline, if you will–to myself and a large number of other refugee authors over the last couple of months as we’ve navigated the uncertain waters of Night Shade Books’ collapse and sale to Skyhorse/Start.

Because of this lifeline, I’ve very seriously been considering joining SFWA once the dust is settled and I’ve finally been paid for my work.

Problem is, SFWA has a little bit of an image problem right now. Okay, maybe not so little. Recently, when it comes to respecting female authors and editors, SFWA has chosen a counterproductive path, giving a platform in the official SFWA Bulletin to a handful of male authors who have decided to wear their sexism outrageously, modeling their antiquated sexism on the runway of our collective unconscious as if they were wearing chainmail bikinis.

While most authors and readers involved in the fantastic genres want to see their favored genres grow up and adapt to the pluralistic, multicultural world we live in, these curmudgeonly dinosaurs have frustrated many by their slavering musings on how “lady writers” and “lady editors” would look in swimsuits, by their patronizing admonitions that female authors should emulate Barbie and “maintain her quiet dignity the way a woman should.” Now, in the most recent SFWA Bulletin, a pair of authors who I imagine as Statler and Waldorf are apparently at it again, calling those offended by this seeming trend of sexism “SFWA liberal fascists” and dismissing these authors’ frustration as thought control and censorship. For a professional organization, giving this sort of poisonous, vitriolic rhetoric a platform seems anything but professional. And to be dismissive of more than half the population is ridiculous at best.

And because of this E. Catherine Tobler is leaving SFWA. You can (and should) read her reasons here.

Look, I really want to show SFWA some love for all they’ve done for me and the other NSB refugees over the last couple of months, even though I’m not (yet) a member. I’d really like to recommend the organization to other authors. I’d love to join the club and be an active part of SFWA’s larger community of writers and editors. But when I see writers I respect and admire leaving the flock in frustration, it not only gives me pause, it damages the reputation of the organization as a whole.