Author: Brian Lumley
Amazon Link: Necroscope
Ignore the creepy skull on the cover, the Necroscope and the series of books that follow it is one of the best combinations of supernatural horror and spy fiction you’ll ever find.
The books follow the exploits of Harry Keogh, the Necroscope, the one man in all the world who can speak to the dead, and the dead love him. The first book is told as a narrative by a ghostly visitor of Alex Kyle of the British E-Branch, a secret government agency of psychics. It chronicles the life of two men, Harry Keogh who comes to learn that he can speak with the dead and borrow their talents, and Boris Dragosani, a necromancer who steals the secrets of the dead and is being manipulated by an ancient Lovecraftian vampire.
Harry is not your typical hero. He has a number of flaws and is more human than most of the literary protagonists you find in horror novels. He spends a good bit of the book plotting revenge on his murderous step-father, who drowned his mother when Harry was just a baby. Harry also eventually gains a power arguably greater than his “deadspeak” – he learns to access the “Mobieus continuum”, a sort of space between space. With this power, he can travel instantaneously anywhere in the world. He uses this power to thwart Dragosani and his vampiric sponsor.
The first book really marries the concept of ghosts, the supernatural, and spy fiction together in a way that makes them feel seamless. As the series goes on, we learn much more about the vampires, who are actually aliens from another dimension, and more at home in a Lovecraft story than Anne Rice. Harry makes numerous mistakes along the way, but manages to prevail, for the most part. The series even ties into Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, further cementing its status as a mythos-based storyline.
The books are fairly long, but the story grabs the reader and keeps them hooked the whole way through. Lumley has a wonderful sense of characters, especially those coming from Romania which he describes in great detail. His monsters are weird and disturbing, and his descriptions of things like necromancy are sufficiently graphic to leave a lasting impression.
I very much recommend this entire series, but especially books 1-3, Necroscope, Whamphyri and The Source. They belong in the collection of any fan of the mythos and really any fan of horror novels in general.