The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 12

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – 12th Pan Book Of Horror Stories (1971)

David Case -The Hunter
David Learmont Aitken – The Instant Divorce
Barry Martin – In Mother’s Loving Memory
Alan Hillery – Ashes To Ashes
Patricia Highsmith – The Terrapin
Norman Kaufman – Sergeant Lacey Demonstrates
James Jauncey – Borderline
Robert Ashley – Pieces Of Mary
Frank Neate – Miss Fletcher’s Plum Tree
Martin Ricketts – The Nursery Club
Barry Martin – Laura
Rachel Kemper – The Dancing Shoes
Rosemary Timperley – The Peg-Doll
T. H. McCormick – Man With A Knife

David Case – The Hunter: Detective Inspector Justin Bell persuades retired big game hunter John Wetherby to help him investigate a brutal murder on Dartmoor. The victim’s body has been torn and his head removed “as clean as a knife or guillotine.” Wetherby’s former colleague Byron – who lives near to the scene of the crime – is likewise approached but finds it all too trivial and amusing to waste time on. Byron is an adrenalin junkie who is only content when gambling with his life. As more brutal slayings occur, the scandal sheets scream of werewolf slayings and Wetherby comes to doubt his ability to track the beast. Could sensationalist journalist Aaron Ross have stumbled upon the truth after all?

I must admit, it doesn’t sound like much from that dreadful synopsis, but it’s a classic and at just over 90 pages it reads like an incredibly fast paced novel. The characters are well drawn (Byron is especially memorable) , there’s a pub called The King’s Torso and Case even finds room for some pitch black humour.

Norman Kaufman – Sergeant Lacey Demonstrates: The bullying Lacey receives his comeuppance on a training exercise with the minimum of fuss and – surprisingly for Kaufman – absence of gore.

Rachel Kemper – The Dancing Shoes: All her life she’d wanted to be a Ballerina. Then she meets the man with the purple eyes. He’d had many a Billy Elliot fantasy himself … until he topped himself.

James Jauncey – Borderline: Sewage worker Harry gets his hand trapped in a metal grid and the sluice gates are due to open. Lucky for him there are plenty of hungry rats around down there …

Rosemary Timperley – The Peg-Doll: Alan finds it on site when the old orphanage is being demolished. He takes it home for his seven year old daughter, Alma, and the peg-doll becomes her constant companion. It is a receptacle for all the misery suffered by the kids when widow Grace Webb was in charge and several of their number starved to death.

Alan Hillary – Ashes To Ashes: Dr. Morrow suspects his young wife Melanie of being unfaithful. He decides to have her cremated – alive. Then he learns that his fears were groundless and it’s all been a silly mistake.

Robert Ashley – Pieces Of Mary: Little Mary’s mother won’t let her knock around with girls of her own age, fearing them to be a bad influence, but she is allowed to play with the quiet boys next door, John and David, who have a morbid interest in dissection.

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