Tim Jeffreys has chosen twenty-one strange and unsettling tales for his upcoming BLACK MASQUERADES collection, to be released on Dark Lane Books.
A common thread running through Jeffreys’ stories is that of deeply flawed and vulnerable protagonists, making poor and even disastrous decisions.
Jeffreys places these fragile characters in weird situations ranging from the macabre to the downright frightening, resulting in a palpable and almost constant sense of threat. The skewed realities they are forced to face will challenge, change and sometimes destroy them.
The collection begins with THE HIDDEN LAYER. It’s not clear what sort of journey failed artist Ann is on, as she discovers her mentor’s horrific secrets, but it leads her deeper into a dark and dangerous world, spiralling to an unexpected conclusion. The entire story is redolent with an atmosphere of threat, and a sense of dread.
For my money, the highlight of the collection is the downright creepy HERE COMES MISTER HERRIBONE! The surviving member of a successful comedy duo is haunted by the memory of his dead partner, who played the character Mr Herribone. Herribone was a figure of fun wearing a full head mask, but the man inside was tortured, resentful and deeply unhappy. He is naturally creepy in the same way that ventriloquist dummies are.
The collection ends on a high note, with the deeply unnerving THE LAST SHOT. Death seems to dog photographer Russell’s footsteps, with some of his subjects dying soon after he took what proved to be their final shot. As often with Jeffrey, the story doesn’t go where you expect, and there is a nasty sting in the tail.
Overall, BLACK MASQUERADE is a highly enjoyable ride. It will be published early next year, and I’ll be sure to link to it when it’s released.