Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Devil of a Christmas Murder

Markheim  by Robert Louis Stevenson  (1885)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   December 17, 2013

devilornamentimagesThe jingle of Christmas Day does not ring loud enough for Markheim, a man doomed to evil ways. We meet him in an antique shop with a lonely dealer. Markheim claims to be looking for a Christmas gift for a lady. Of course, this is a lie and the dealer suspects as much: Markheim is a thief. The dealer is impatient and suggests a hand mirror. The shop is filled with mirrors and clocks … reflections … time …  and something else. And soon enough Markheim makes his deadly move.

Christmas Day is a time when bells ring with joy and light fills most everyone’s heart, but Markheim finds gross blots of darkness and shivering shadows after he strikes. Are the mirrors reflecting his guilt? Are the clocks ticking louder now? He becomes haunted by the incessant ticking. And then all goes silent as falling snow. He even thinks he hears the dead getting up. Murder is a salty crime.


Illustration by Michael Lark

When Markheim meets a strange visitor who tells him, “I know you to the soul, Markheim,” the story takes a deliciously sinister turn. Markheim knows clearly this stranger is not of earth and not of God.

Robert Louis Stevenson published this in 1885 in The Broken Shaft: Tales of Mid-Ocean as part of Unwin’s Christmas Annual.  Stevenson was a literary celeb who died far too young at age 44. Some have compared Markheim to Dickens’ Scrooge who was visited by Christmas ghosts. Some find similarities to Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov  in Crime and Punishment. Surely this is a story that begs the question … is evil a mask we choose to wear or a power that comes forth from the human soul? For Markheim to survive at all, he must choose on Christmas Day.


Read the full text of Markheim at East of the Web .

Listen to the narration by Librivox (19 minutes) by  William Coon .

Listen to the adapted radio drama at Weird Circles (24 minutes) .

Happy Holidays to all, and I wish you Happy New Year readings at Tales of Terror for 2014!


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under Christmas ghost stories, Christmas stories, fiction, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

A Slimy Little Horror

The Business of Madame Jahn   by Vincent O’ Sullivan  (1896)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  December 10, 2013

Gustave Herbout is swinging by his neck from his Paris bedroom ceiling.

shady-faces-tmbWas life so bad for Gustave with so much leisure time in the French cafes and with his mademoiselle, a dancer, to charm his evenings, or his strolls along the Boulevard des Capucines? Gustave will inherit a great deal of wealth from his Aunt Jahn as well as her house and her little shop that maintains a sturdy income. Auntie Jahn, a sweet, petty and annoying old woman!


This story is a slimy little horror that takes place in glittering Paris.  Stay with Gustave … there is a wicked little murder about to happen.  It is curious what drives a soul to suicide, yes? Madame Jahn is  a story of evil wit you won’t want to miss.


Vincent O’ Sullivan (friend of Oscar Wilde) is an author that no one reads anymore. He is considered to be a fallen master of the macabre. His writing is quite vivid; you can almost smell his characters. His “When I was Dead” is another very short read that hits with a shiver and is the most anthologized of all his work; and after reading it I can understand why. If you like his work, his best shorts are in the Book of Bargains, a collection of his short stories: The Bargain of Rupert Orange, My Enemy and Myself,  A Study in Murder, Original Sin, When I Was Dead, Hugo Raven’s Hand. 

Please drop me a comment if  Vincent O’ Sullivan is a new author to you. I’m curious to know how many horror fans know his work.

Read the full text of The Business of Madame Jahn at Gaslight

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, horror, short stories, tales of terror

The Face in the Darkness

The Mysterious Mansion  by Honore de Balzac  (1830)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   December 3, 2013

I am so very tempted to create a Spoiler Alert for this story because the ending is so very horrifying … but I won’t.  I am so very tempted to compare this story to one of Poe’s, but that will give away the ending. I will tell you that this story is about marital infidelity and a sinister one at that.


Balzac wrote this tale very likely from his boyhood experiences of being sent to a dungeon for misbehaving while at school in Vendome. He was sent to the dungeon 100 times; I expect his confinements had a direct effect on the writing of The Mysterious Mansion.


We are in Vendome with our narrator, Monsieur Horace, who comes upon the Grande Breteche. He describes this mansion in ruins with blackened crests and rusted bolts

“Everywhere an invisible hand has graven the word mystery.”

But this is no ghost story. What happened in the Grande Breteche is a great secret and told to Horace by a young woman, Rosalie. The secret is about the lovely Madame Josephine de Merret, her exotic Spanish lover, and the persistent and suspicious husband Monsieur de Merret.

While dignity, trust, and honor remain the hallmarks of a strong marriage, a bargain to maintain these values can be a deadly endeavor. You’ll find the final line of dialogue and an ebony and silver crucifix to be a crucial knot in this chilling story of lust, love, and betrayal.  And the unforgettable face in the darkness.


Read the full text at

This narration at SpokenWordAudio and read by Ben Onwukwe is especially well done, complete with French accents for authentic flavor (30 minutes). Listen to The Mysterious Mansion here.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books  

The Story Reading Ape Blog      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under fiction, horror, quiet horror, short stories

The Dazzling Darkness, Print Edition Now Available From Crispin Books

Reading a physical book has it pleasures, doesn’t it? I mean I love the old books with thick pages and sharp black typography that strikes your eye. The feel of the cover, the act of turning the pages and hearing that “swish” adds just a little bit of magic to the story.  I especially like living with books on my shelves, on windowsills, coffee table or nightstand, touching their spines as I recall favorite titles or authors. In their own way, their neat little bodies say, “I’m here.”

So, now that Crispin Books  (imprint of Crickhollow Books in Milwaukee, WI) has published The Dazzling Darkness in a trade paperback edition, I am totally thrilled.

The book cover still holds a mysterious catch to my eye no matter how many times I look at it; I will remind you that the design won Joel Friedlander’s Cover Award in May of this year. Cover Designer Gina Casey does all my book and short story covers. She is a rising star!


So many of you have sent personal messages and emails asking about print editions. For individual  orders, the soft cover is available at, Barnes&Noble, and And of course through Wholesale trade orders at Ingram and Baker&Taylor (ISBN 978-1-883953-61-4).

I’m hoping that it will be on bookshop shelves soon. If you’d like your local library to carry The Dazzling Darkness, please encourage your Library Director or Reference Librarian to make a purchase through their vendors with the above ISBN. Or if you have a favorite Indie bookshop you prefer to support, they will likely order it for you to pickup.

Thank you all for your loyal support and enthusiasm for all my writing endeavors. Crispin Books will be publishing Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural in trade paperback soon in 2014.

Both ebooks are still available for Kindle, Nook, and Ipad at $2.99.


“I’m Here!”


Gothic Readers Book Club Choice Award for Outstanding Fiction

“Fast-paced, sensually vivid novel with an uncommon take on Transcendentalism … and a stunning conclusion.”

Amy Belding Brown, author, Mr. Emerson’s Wife


Filed under fiction, ghost stories, quiet horror