The Secret Files
of the Diogenes Club
" “I have written to Mr. Trotsky
in Moscow, offering to place my services at his disposal if he would
charge me with the responsibility of eradicating Christianity from the
“And has he written
Reviewed by Mark Dalligan
one quite writes like Kim Newman. He interweaves fictional characters
and eerie plots with actual people (and sometimes other
writers’ fictional ones) creating seamless alternative
realities set in the near past. His heroes and villains populate
environments, often subtly, sometimes sublimely, different from our own
but, at the same time, recognisable. There is always a meticulous
attention to detail, and enough common "real world" furniture, to make
the reader comfortable.
The Secret Files of the
Diogenes Club is largely a prequel to his collection The Man from the Diogenes Club (2006)
which introduced this extraordinary branch of the UK intelligence
service. Since the time of its founder, Mycroft Holmes (ref. Conan
Doyle: The Greek
Interpreter), the Diogenes Club has been secretly engaged
in combating unworldly and downright supernatural challenges beyond the
scope of the common day PC Plod. The first collection covered the late
1960’s to the present and focussed on style conscious,
moustachioed Richard Jeperson (think Jason King of 1970s shows Department S and Jason King), a man
with no early history but strong psychic talents.
collection consists, with one exception, of previously published
stories and takes us back to the Victorian era, concluding in the
1970s. The common theme is not unusual for the genre: beating
overwhelming odds and, mainly, the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil.
Newman’s characters though can suffer real agony, emotional
and physical, and innocence can be permanently lost: this is not
comic-strip fantasy, even though well dotted with humour.
The first, and
longest story, The
Gypsies in the Wood, features Charles Beauregard, one of
the Diogenes’s first high office holders. It is perhaps the
most disturbing narrative in the volume with a theme of disappearing
children, disjointed timelines and strange returns. Resolution comes in
a superb tour de force of disrupted Victorian commercialism, merging
realities, and secret places.
On a lighter
note, Richard Riddle,
Boy Detective, is written in the vein of a Famous Five
jaunt. It brings a trio of youngsters into conflict with an
anti-Darwinist with a secret to hide. In Angel Down, Sussex
an other worldly visitation is investigated with the assistance of Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, opposed by the machinations of Aleister Crowley,
the Great Beast. Clubland
Heroes presents a moral tale of impossible High Society
beings and small-mindedness. The
Big Fish is a Private Eye story set in California shortly
after Pearl Harbour. It throws film starlets and a baby into an H.P.
Lovecraft inspired coastal setting, producing an enjoyable
Fish Story has the diabolic tycoon, Derek Leech, bring
confusion and, unusually, happiness in a world teetering on the edge of
destruction during the making of a B-movie. The final offering, Cold Snap, brings
back Richard Jeperson and Derek Leech in conflict with themselves, a
mad scientist and inclement weather.
Dalligan’s short fiction has appeared in a number of
publications including Static Movement, MicroHorror, Boston Literary
Magazine, LitBits and Apollo's Lyre.
Publisher: MonkeyBrain Books
Publication Date:Nov 2007
was born in London in 1959. After a Somerset childhood and reading
English at the University of Sussex, he returned to London and began
his career as a film critic, broadcaster and alternative history SF
novelist. His first novel The Night Mayor (1989) heralded many award winning works.
with Kim Newman
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