In the past, when I’ve talked to fans of H.P. Lovecraft, readers always use the same adjectives: eldritch, insane, incomprehensible. A little further reading on Wikipedia* gave me a bit more information on the king of the weird. Someone manages to discover and tap into a weird power beyond kenning and ends up insane or dead. I bring all this up because the main character in Jonathan L. Howard’s Carter & Lovecraft, comes to a Lovecraftian story with even less knowledge than I do. For Dan Carter, it starts with a case that he can’t let go and ends with…who knows?
Dan Carter is a police detective the first time we meet him. He’s just tracked a serial killer to his lair with his partner Charlie. They should’ve called for backup. Within minutes, Charlie is inexplicably dead by his own hand and the killer is teasing Dan about the Twist. Even though Dan rescued the killer’s last intended victim, he can’t count it as a victory. The case niggles at him even as he quits the police force and becomes a private detective. Then, he inherits a bookshop in Providence, Rhode Island, from a man he’s never heard of and gets a call from a man who drowns on dry land.
Things get weird pretty quickly after that.
Carter drives north to figure out why he’s suddenly saddled with a bookstore and another impossible murder case. At least now he has a partner. Emily Lovecraft (descendent of H.P. Lovecraft, but not directly) runs the bookstore her uncle left to Carter. She’s never heard of Carter, either. It’s a mystery to them. Carter is the kind of dogged policeman that I admire, because he can’t leave a murder unsolved even though it would be safer to stay away—especially since forces beyond kenning are stirring below the surface of this story.
The man behind the dry land drowning and another horrible (but entertaining if you’re a Monty Python fan) death in Atlantic City turns out to be a mathematician who’s managed to find a way around the laws of probability. (This isn’t a spoiler. The discovery happens before the halfway point of Carter & Lovecraft.) William Colt is terrifying. He’s an unloved, overlooked nerd who figured out how to be a god. He found more power than any human could—or should—handle.
I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of Lovecraft reference in this book, because I’ve never been tempted to dip a mental toe in his weirdness. I like stories that twist reality, sure, but his purple prose is just too much for me. That said, I did pick this book up because the description on NetGalley mentioned the author. The worlds Lovecraft created are a playground for authors to muck around in and I really like it when authors like Howard pick up the torch and run with it—particularly Howard, because the man has a wicked sense of humor. I can tell that Howard is kicking off a new series with this book. The epilogue of Carter & Lovecraft makes it clear that there are more mind-bending adventures ahead for the duo. I am very much looking forward to new instalments.
I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 20 October 2015.
* Yeah, I know. I’m a librarian, for cripes sake.