The Coming of Jonathan Smith

by Harry Ludlam
Release date: 1964
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: horror

'DREADFUL — it came again. Same thing but worse! Why should I dream such horror? Walking again, same fields, then IT appeared. Awful smell of blood. Screamed several times... but thing kept moving closer. No shape, no face, just white. Felt very tight round throat. Prayed God to wake me up — he did. Dream so real I can see and feel it now. Am I going mad?'

Marcia Scott's mysterious death leaves many questions unanswered. Who would wish to kill her? What reasons had she to kill herself? What prompted the terrifying nightmares she began having shortly before her death? And what is the significance of the necklace found near Marcia's body: a necklace which seems to have its origins in the days of witchcraft and terror which still stain the countryside around the place where Marcia lived — and died?

When Alan Tarrant arrives for Marcia's inquest, he intends only to provide support for Marcia's sister, Alan's cousin Susan. Soon, however, Alan and Susan find themselves caught up in a mystery which hints at unspeakable evil brought back to life. At least three other women who purchased necklaces similar to Marcia's have died, suddenly and unexpectedly; and when Susan begins having similar nightmares after wearing one of the necklaces, Alan realises that they have stumbled across a malignant spirit bent on revenge for past wrongs, which appears to be growing stronger with each death. Who, or what, has brought it back to life? And can it be stopped before more women die?

This new edition of Harry Ludlam's classic novel, first published in 1964, is the fourth title in the Ash-Tree Press Classic Macabre series. It's a true classic, a page-turner not to be missed. In his introduction, David G. Rowlands notes: 'As you will discover, it is not only a fine novel of the supernatural, but it is also a detective story, solving the puzzle of a series of murders. Then, just when you think all is explained and cleared away, the real underlying problem surfaces in a new guise. It has plenty of "Jamesian" atmosphere, is well-written, and cleverly plotted.'

(updated 2010-11-29)

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