William Lauder – The Uncanny
Posted by demonik on July 25, 2007
William Lauder – The Uncanny (Arrow, 1977)
Wilbur Gray visits publisher Frank Richards to discuss his latest zoological treatise, a study of cats. Richards recognises a money-spinning masterpiece when he sees one and the haggling commences.
“You really believe”, the publisher said, “that it’s the cats that are in charge, not the humans? And they only keep us around to suit themselves?”
Gray believes, alright and he’s unnerved to learn that, since their previous meeting, Richards has acquired one of the conniving bastards as a pet!
To prove his theory, Gray produces an envelope stuffed with the usual irrefutable evidence, and first we learn of the “Malkin case” of 1908 …
Embittered old Miss Malkin cuts profligate nephew Michael from her will and opts to leave her fortune to a trust fund for the purpose of building a home for stray cats. Her housemaid, Janet, is pregnant with Michaels child, and she agrees to steal the will from the safe in her employers bedroom on condition that he marries her. Needless to say, he has no intention of marrying “a common housemaid from a Whitechapel slum”, but he’s prepared to make a pretence at complying if it means getting his hands on that sexy cash!
Come the night Janet is attempting her robbery in Berkley Square, Michael is out gallivanting with a prostitute in the East End. What a bounder! Worse, the old girl has woken to discover Janet busy safecracking and threatened her with prison. Panicked, the girl smothers the hateful old bat with a pillow, right under the watching eyes of her loyal felines. Oh dear …
Los Angeles, 1976: When her parents are killed in a plane crash, nine year old Lucy goes to live with her Aunt’s family, where she is tormented by her surrogate sister, Angela. The elder girl takes great delight in torturing Lucy’s cat, Wellington, until, her patience exhausted, Lucy takes a crash-course in black magic to cut Angela down to size.
Hollywood, 1949: Tragedy on the set of Dungeon Of Horror, when some fool switches the rubber blade on the pendulum for a steel one and Madeleine Carrerras, wife of horror legend Valentine De’ath is cut in half. We soon learn the culprit’s identity, but who is behind the attempts on De’ath and new partner Edina which follow?
This time, the dialogue is liberally festooned with deletives and there are nods to both Stoker’s The Squaw and Roger Corman’s ace movie version of The Pit And The Pendulum.
Finally, the framing story ends exactly as you think it will.
A very short (140 page) read and even then there is conspicuous padding, especially in the final story, but I have to admit I enjoyed this ridiculous book immensely.