Please do not be fooled by the slimness of this volume, these are tales to charm, chill, intrigue and entertain.
The collection opens two differing ghost stories. Firstly the eponymous "A Persistence of Geraniums". A wonderfully humorous ghost story with a twist. Full of witty one line descriptions which capture the nature of the characters with a cutting perfection. Following this comes "His Heart Shall Speak No More" a darker, more serious tale in the vein of traditional ghost stories. Exploring the well loved theme that some things which are found would be much better not found at all and having all of the required shivers one would expect of a tale of this kind.
It then moves on to a series of stories concerning Edwin Dry, The Deptford Assassin. No ordinary assassin in any way, shape or form. By turns he shows a social conscience, a chilling coldness and lack of emotion and a humour entirely his own. From impersonating an asylum inmate, to shrugging off a demonic possession, nothing it seems can shake his steady nerve and calm demeanor. An extremely intriguing character that I would be more than happy to read more of.
The closing story is an alternative view of Thomas Carnacki, which I will say little about, other than it shows the great Occult Detective in a very different light. Definite food for thought.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, I would be hard pushed to chose a favourite from these entertaining tales. What stands out throughout is John Linwood Grant’s skill of description and humour. With a minimum of words he makes these characters alive. A passing mention of one item of clothing or a small but telling personality trait and somehow their essence is captured. Tales with dark edges and at times a dark humour to match.
I only have two complaints concerning this book,
1. There was a distinct lack of geraniums.
2. It really wasn’t long enough.
Reading it has left me with the desire to read more of the back catalogue of short stories available and to hope that more will be forthcoming!
To say a little about the author, John Linwood Grant frequently entertains the members of the Folk Horror Revival group with his excellently funny St Botolph’s Parish Newsletters. Those of us lucky enough to be on his Facebook friends list get extra snippets from St Botolphs which are often some of the funniest things I find in my newfeed. John is also part of the editorial team behind the Occult Detective Quarterly magazine and his short stories have appeared in numerous publications. More from John can be found on his Greydogtales blog. He also likes lurchers, a lot.