Geoff Nelder investigates The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

So, here we have yet another review of John L. Probert’s Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, from that man Mr. Geoff Nelder. Here’s the review in full:

“I’ve often warned people not to become ill in the Bristol area because I’ve seen what the health workers are like from television’s Holby City and Casualty. However, if said people want a spectacular death then writhing ablaze at the end of a chain dangling from the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge would be in their top ten. Of course, if that happened involuntarily then we have an intriguing murder mystery, especially when it is just one of several unusual and yet not historically unique deaths.

Once again, I find interactions with my life and the settings in Spectral Press publications. As a teen I used to cycle with pals from my home in Cheltenham to Bristol with the famous suspension bridge and the nearby zoo as our destination. These coincidences are beginning to freak me out… And so we have a hot air balloon murder, and so did I in my thriller, Hot Air. Quite different modus operandi, and mine was over Bath not Bristol, but still too close for comfort.

Detective Inspector Jeffrey Longdon and Sergeant Jenny Newham rule the investigation. One effectively rules her patch with a wagging finger and vertical palm of her official hand, while the other is a coffee addict, but at least of good quality beans. It’s rather worrying that the police smile a lot – it’s not what the public expect, even more unnerving here, but then why not laugh in the face of adversity?

The zoo’s ‘Captain Clowney’s Creepy Crawly Creature Feature’ and much of the tone in the story is reminiscent of Father Ted (Jack’s Dreamy Sleepy Nightie Snoozy Snooze….) lending humour to the visceral horror, making it even more creepy than the normal nail-biter. Fear of clowns gets an outing. I didn’t have Coulrophobia until now. To have a Point of View character die in grisly torment works well. One can only hope that numbness overcame agony in time.

Even the furniture in this story can ‘creak ominously’.

Poe’s Phibes is posthumously unearthed. A classic story, immortalised further in film, is glorified here. Vincent Price would be proud.

‘All our safe houses are full at the moment, sir.’ – classic dry humour. Had me spluttering in my liquid Valium. I would like to think that contemporary police are quicker at solving crimes than Longdon and Newman but I have my suspicions.

Thank you, John Llewellyn Probert for giving me another reason for staying away from Bristol.”

More reviews soon!

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