Read This: Mystery, Murder, Madness, Mythos

mystery murder madness mythos

Mystery, Murder, Madness, Mythos, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass and Brian M. Sammons, revels in the natural pairing of detective fiction and the monstrous enigmas of Lovecraft’s mythos. After all, Lovecraft’s characters were always poking about and asking questions–here, the professionals are involved. 

The dozen stories contained in  Mystery, Murder, Madness, Mythos transport the familiar hard-boiled detectives and cozy amateur sleuths into the weird world of cosmic horror, confronting them with mysteries that can never be solved. Investigations are abandoned for self-preservation. Logical conclusions become impossible to reach. The trails of clues they follow lead nowhere they want to go.

It’s quite a ride.


mystery murder madness mythos“Cathedrals of Despair” by Tim Waggoner–a small town police officer struggles to deal with a rash of suicides provoked by something far beyond her control.

“The Long March” by William Meikle–a locked-door mystery pulls a private detective too deep into the workings of a secret cult.

“Death Beneath the Dread Sleeper” by Lucy A. Snyder–a young cop trying to hold onto a normal life and solve a murder at the end of days. Brilliantly despairing, bleak and tragic and straddling the line between hope and madness–my favorite here.

“Japanese Whispers” by Thana Niveau–ASMR becomes anything but soothing for a pair of detectives trying to find the reason for a series of seemingly-unrelated sudden deaths.

“The Death of Truth” by Peter Rawlik & Sal Ciano–an investigator looking for the culprits behind a spate of body snatchings finds it is not who–or what– he thought it would be.

“And At The Hour Of Our Death” by John Linwood Grant–the crime is solved, but the mystery only deepens in this deftly-drawn tale of cults and chaos set among the elite in prewar Great Britain. Another favorite.

“The Nothing That Is Not, The Nothing That Is” by John Langan–immersive and bloody story of a young, impulsive would-be good guy and the hell his good intentions open for everyone he knows.

“No Detective Needed” by Darrell Schweitzer–a private detective hired by a mob boss to find his missing son follows his trail into a far more dangerous world than the one he is used to navigating.

“The Dreaming Detective” by David Conyers–an investigator who can move between the waking world and the Dreamlands finds herself entangled in a feud with an old, old god.

“The Doom That Came to Wyrock” by Orrin Grey–a woman looking for her missing father finds greed, power, and worse in a dying town.

“Three Deaths and a Big Light” by Don Webb–punchy, fast, and wry riff on The Whisperer in Darkness that twists some of Lovecraft’s unsavory tendencies into very sharp commentary. Another favorite.

“Like Dogs” by Nick Mamatas–a low-key descent into the abyss set among the dockyards of Red Hook, Brooklyn. Visceral and intense while preserving the dark mystery, another favorite and a fine final story.


The bottom line is that Mystery, Murder, Madness, Mythos is a wonderfully grim anthology. Genre tropes are warped into new and terrible forms that resonate long after the stories end. I recommend it highly.