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Publisher's Summary

London 1925: Ex-boxer Harry Stubbs goes undercover, working in a mental institution to investigate an epidemic of madness. Bizarre deaths occur at the asylum, seemingly linked to an occult power. As he starts to unravel the mystery, Harry’s grip on his own sanity becomes increasingly precarious. 

Who is behind the killings? What are the strange new treatments doing to the patients? Why can Harry not get any reply from his handlers? To get answers, Harry must to venture into the borderland between magic and science, sanity and madness, and face the Master of Chaos....

A thrilling 1920s adventure drawing on HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

©2018 David Hambling (P)2018 David Hambling

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  • C.T.
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 08-10-18

An excellent new entry in the Harry Stubbs series

The Harry Stubbs Adventures are one of the best series to come out of the independent Cthulhu horror scene along with Andrew Doran and my own work (just kidding--or am I?). They're the adventures of a WW1 veteran pugilist who continually comes into contact with the edges of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Note: I say the edges because Harry Stubbs isn't a guy who guns down Dagon or Deep Ones but usually ends up only encountering the barest whiffs of the eldritch and mostly deals with cultists--this keeps things mysterious as well as explains why he's kept most of his sanity intact.

This book opens with Harry having gotten a job in a mental institution after his previous employment dried away. He's undercover for his new employers in an occult agency but Harry is such a dedicated worker that he essentially, becomes an orderly rather than uses the position to keep an eye on things. Master of Chaos acquaints us with turn of the century treatment of the insane as well as the burgeoning understanding of what PTSD (called "Shell Shock" back then) is.

Being a Lovecraftian mystery, some of the patients are actually not insane and some of the staff are so insane they appear to be respectable members of society while engaging in ghastly tortures. I.e. the mental health practices of the day. Hambling, as always, does an excellent job with his research on both real-life occultism, period medicine, and interweaving Cthulhuoid concepts.

As this is the fourth or so book in the series, long-time readers should note things have gotten a bit formulaic--that's not a bad thing, though. I happen to like cheeseburgers and when I order one, I expect a cheeseburger. In this case, Harry remains likable and his relationship with Sally is progressing nicely despite how scandalous it would be for him to end up with a former prostitute. Also, how dangerous it might be for her to end up with a man who is prone to meeting squid-worshiping nutters. Then again, after WW1 there wasn't nearly as many pickings as Churchill, himself, said to Americans visiting the country.

This book contains references to ancient Egypt, a certain Black Pharaoh, and a man who thinks he's the King of England--all to my considerable entertainment. I hope the next book will be either about the Mi-Go or Cthulhu but, either way, this is another great entry. The narration is perfect as well, every bit as good as previous entries in the series.

9/10

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  • David
  • 09-13-18

Harry is a Hero

Great character in Harry Stubbs fascinating storyline good read look forward to the next exciting adventure