Review: “Rhythm and Booze”, “The Weathered Stone”, and “The Inuit Bone” by William Meikle.
If you had subscribed to William Meikle’s newsletter, you would have gotten those stories for free along with “The Forth Protocol” and “A Slim Chance” in a special collection, Rhythm and Booze, released on his 60th birthday.
All are Derek Adams stories. He’s the down-and-out, chain-smoking and boozing Glasgow private eye who’s Meikle’s favorite character. I briefly mentioned the last two stories in my review of The Midnight Eye Files omnibus.
As always, these are not straight-forward cheating spouses and background investigation cases. Adams is, as he puts it, a “magnet for the Twilight Zone cases”.
As I mentioned with my last look at a Derek Adams’ story, Deal or No Deal?, Derek’s stories work best at longer lengths where more weird and sinister characters can be introduced and the plots twisted more.
Still, they are long enough to work, and they don’t just get by on Adams’ cynical, sarcastic voice.
“Rhythm and Booze” reminded me of Meikle’s Operation Antarctica. Both have unearthly music and an important historical manuscript to explain the menace that may engulf the hero. Here big time Glasgow mobster Brian Johnson wants Adams to investigate a very weird rhythm an act is putting out at his night club – after he banters with Adams about his clothes looking like props out of all those private eye movies Adams watches. At the club, Adams hears what Johnson’s going on about: a dark, pounding rhythm of self-annihilation. And is the audience really fading in and out sight to the beat? After getting a manuscript from the drummer’s grandfather, Adams is off investigating the strange past and present of the great house at Eillan Eighe. The endings are fairly satisfying though there was one thread I would have wrapped up better. You can find this one in Meikle’s Dark Melodies collection.
Adams occasionally likes to annoy the clients he doesn’t like, and one of them is a man named Hynd in “The Weathered Stone”. Hynd wants a book dealer named George Jessup followed. And so Derek does and to a underneath a library in Glasgow and finds out a secret of Jessup’s. The story has a bit of a joke ending, but the rest is serious, and Meikle fans may want to note one of the Seton clan, which make appearances in other Meikle stories, is mentioned. This one is in the Flesh Like Smoke anthology.
“The Inuit Bone” is fun, a good combination of Adams’ voice and the good-natured Toolemark, his client, who has a gift for sleight-of-hand. Toolemark is from an Inuit tribe that wants the “telling bone”. It was taken back to Glasgow by a Victorian explorer of Canada, and the tribe – and their goddess – want it back. Finding it is the easy part (with assistance provided by Adams’ friend Doug from The Amulet). It’s getting it back from Glasgow’s number one mobster that will be the problem. You can get this one in the anthology A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests.
Fans of Derek and his snark and his weird work will not be disappointed in these.
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