Supernatural sleuthing

Lin Carter made his reputation creating heroes that were molded on older pulp versions. He did this in several genres, including that of the weird, occultist detective. His master of the black arts champion was Anton Zarnak. This collection of 16 adventures — “Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak: Supernatural Sleuth” — begins with the original three Zarnak tales Carter produced.

Not a whole lot to base an entire anthology book on is it? The twist, and joy, of this collection is editor Robert Price’s willingness to allow his writers to mess with the template. The assembled penmen were told they could pretty much do what they wanted with the saturnine detective; make him old, make him young, set him in New York or San Francisco. Whatever the muse dictated.

“Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak: Supernatural Sleuth”
Editor: Robert Price
Price: $19.95
Publisher: Marietta Publishing
P.O. Box 3485
Marietta, GA 30061-3485

In fact there were really only two rigid rules laid down. One, that the main character be Anton Zarnak, based on the Carter supernatural sleuth and two, somewhere in the story “The Mask Of Yama,” a demon with three eyes, had to be described.

That was it. Now take the character and go out and have some fun. Which is exactly what eight various writers did. Among them were Price himself, completing the last Carter piece that was left unfinished at his death, C.J. Henderson, James Chambers and John L.French to name a few.

All the stories are gems, every one of them. Some are action orientated, making Zarnak feel like he’s cut from a Robert E.Howard drama while others echo the moody, dark atmosphere (and evils) of H.P.Lovecrafts Cluthu myths. A few are comedic and others outright cosmic.

Unlike other such collections that have tried to mimic the tone and feel of originating author’s character, this series breathes tons of fresh air on every single page. Making me wonder, in the end, why more editor’s don’t go this route with their projects.

If you like the madcap pulp mix of genres — horror into mystery, etc. — then give this book a try. You will not be disappointed. As for me, I’m sitting here praying it sells through the roof and there will be a Volume Two.