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Reading - Cold Hand in Mine

This is a selection of short stories by Robert Aickman, an English writer who lived from 1914 to 1981 and wrote "strange stories". He was the grandson of Richard Marsh who wrote "The Beetle" and also "Curios", seven short stories about two rival collectors Mr Tress and Mr Pugh which are also strange but also darkly funny. A few of Aickman's stories have been filmed including the first, and best, of this collection, The Swords. Part of the problem with Aickman's writing is that the development of the story is often slow, comprising a whole host of descriptions which seem to bear no relation to the story at hand. When these serve to build the ambiance, such as in the Swords or The Real Road to the Church, they do excellent service. In the first a man enounters a bizarre side-show act and in the second, a woman uncovers some unsettling folklore. However, in other stories, such as Meeting Mr Millar, about the downstairs neigbour of a young adulterer, you wish he'd just get one with it.

That said, for the stories that do deliver, especially the first two, I'm glad I read this.

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