Subterranean Press, out now
Glad to escape the notoriety which has followed his encounter with the Queen of Bedlam, Matthew joins Mr Greathouse on a mission to collect a notorious killer from the asylum and bring him back to New York. But Tyranthus Slaughter is a student of human nature, and he knows exactly the way to get inside the heads of his captors…
For those who have avoided the Matthew Corbett series because they’re not the “horror” stories which they expect from Robert McCammon, you should give this a try. Yes, it’s set at the turn of the eighteenth century which means that there are certain plot developments which simply couldn’t work in a contemporary story, but it’s as horrific a tale as Robert Bloch’s Psycho or Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs, which is not a comparison I make likely. In both of those stories, we get to know the person behind the knife of the killer, and gain some understanding as to what their motives are, and we most certainly do here with Slaughter. You may not agree with how he’s turned out, but you most definitely comprehend how he got there.
Throw one man into a wilderness pursuing another, and the story becomes timeless: Matthew’s dogged pursuit, assisted by some well-drawn characters, is draining at times. Indeed there are some moments where you need to put the book down for a moment to deal with the aftermath – the fate of two women who cross Slaughter’s path is one such.
Assisted by Vincent Chong’s drawings, this is the smoothest of the first three Corbett adventures, and with number five shortly appearing, it’s well worth making the young clerk’s acquaintance.
Verdict: Like Sarah Pinborough’s recent Mayhem, this vividly and brilliantly combines the serial killer and historical genres – with just a touch of fantasy. Recommended. 8/10