Basil Copper's The Curse of The Fleers was published in its original form by PS Publishing in 2012. It was originally published in 1976.
Information about Basil Copper:
Basil Copper (1924-2013) was a British author. He wrote several horror and detective stories, and novels. He was perhaps best known for his series of Solar Pons stories.
Information about The Curse of the Fleers:
When Captain Guy Hammond, on convalescent leave from his regiment, is contacted by his old friend Cedric Fleer, he finds himself plunged into a treacherous web of deadly intrigue and unimaginable horror surrounding a noble Dorset family. Cedric's father, Sir John Fleer, is being driven to the brink of madness by the ghoulish apparition of the 'Creeping Man of Fleers' which haunts the battlements of Fleer Manor. Is the bloodied and dying figure the fulfilment of the gruesome ancestral curse laid on the family, or is there a yet more sinister explanation for the horrifying deaths that follow Hammond’s arrival at the ancient mansion?
As the mysterious deaths mount up, Hammond must unravel the family feud that has raged down the centuries between the Fleers and the Darnleys, born of appalling crimes in the bloody past. Is Sir Jeffrey Darnley, the Fleers' hated neighbour, responsible for these terrible events? Or could The Great Waldo, a celebrated actor who is also a master of disguise, also be implicated? Then there is the grotesque menagerie at Fleer Manor containing Konga, a huge ape that is capable of tearing a human being apart, and the sinister catacombs beneath the house which hide an ancient and deadly secret. But with time fast running out, can Captain Hammond brave death and danger long enough to discover what that terrifying secret is?
Published for the first time anywhere in the version the author originally intended, The Curse of the Fleers is a 'lost' Victorian Gothic novel by one of Britain's acknowledged masters of the macabre.
A REVIEW OF BASIL COPPER'S THE CURSE OF THE FLEERS
In the introduction Stephen Jones writes how badly The Curse of the Fleers was treated when it was originally published in 1976. It was totally destroyed and butchered by the publisher (sections were re-written etc) and the author disowned it. I'm glad that I've never read that version, because it's easy to imagine that it's bad in every possible way, but I have to admit that I'm a bit curious about it, because it would be interesting to know much of the text was removed and changed. I think it's great that PS Publishing has finally published this book in its original form, because it's an excellent book and can be recommended to readers who like dark and macabre fiction.
I have to confess that I'm not very familiar with Basil Copper's fiction, because I've only read his short stories. I decided to try reading The Curse of the Fleers, because I like his stories (his stories are excellent and some of them are Lovecraftian masterpieces). I'm glad that I read this book, because it turned out to be a good and well written gothic book.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
The Curse of the Fleers is a story about Captain Hammond who gets a letter from his friend, Cedric Fleer. Cedric tells him about an ancient curse and a Creeping Man, and asks him to investigate things, but leaves a lot untold. When Hammond travels to the Fleer Manor, he finds out that something strange is going on...
Basil Copper has created a perfectly gothic and menacing atmosphere in this book. The author lures the reader into a web of gothic splendour and macabre happenings by writing beautiful prose and delivering horror elements at a steady rate. I was impressed by the author's writing style, because the tension and terror rose gradually to a thrilling level and I couldn't stop reading the story.
The cast of characters is diverse and interesting and the author writes perfectly (and at times even a bit mysteriously) about them. I especially enjoyed reading about how Cedric's father, Sir John Fleer, was afraid of the Creeping Man and thought that he was losing his sanity. The author wrote perfectly about his fears.
The manor house itself is quite an interesting place, because it's full of surprises from catacombs to a private menagerie. I enjoyed reading about these surprises, because they added a nice touch of strangeness to the story.
This book reminded me quite a lot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of Baskervilles. I don't know if The Hound of Baskervilles has been an inspiration to the author, but there are several similarities, so it's possible that it has inspired him. There are also traces of other well-known stories (for example Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum).
Before I finish writing this review, I'll mention that the working notes (story ideas, synopsis of the characters, character traits, topography and rough plot outline) at the end of this book are fascinating, because they reveal how the author has created the story and the characters. I'll also mention that I liked the cover art by Stephen E. Fabian.
I can highly recommend The Curse of the Fleers to everybody who loves dark fiction, gothic mysteries and gothic horror. If you like good old-fashioned horror and detective stories, you should put this original version of The Curse of the Fleers to your reading list, because it's a good book.
Excellent gothic fiction!