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Archive for the ‘Martin Jenson’ Category

Martin Jenson – The Echo On The Stairs

Posted by demonik on June 1, 2009

Martin Jenson – The Echo On The Stairs (New English Library, March 1977)

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“AN OLD LADY DIES IN BRUTAL CIRCUMSTANCES. A YOUNG BOY IS DRIVEN TO SUICIDE. A SCIENTIST IS KILLED BEHIND THE WHEEL OF HIS CAR.

These events cast a shadow over the lives of Eric, Peter and Ronald, three friends who are drawn deeper into the living horror of a punishment that claws at them from the past.

A novel of harrowing suspense and mounting terror, the story of a guilt that refuses to die and a vengeance that cannot be assuaged.”

Thanks to Steve Goodwin for the cover scan and blurb.

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Martin Jenson – An Odour Of Decay

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Martin Jenson – An Odour Of Decay (Nel, Sept. 1975)

martinjensonodourofdecay

When three sisters are bequeathed an old, empty house they decide to move in and make it their home. Innocent of the hint of menace that lurks there …

The eldest sister, Belinda, experiences sudden strange attacks of epilepsy; Sarah, the youngest, develops a craving for sexual perversion; and Nan, normally a contented, rational person, is infected with a morbid obsession with death.

The only clue to these evil transformations lies in an ancient text which defines death as an extension of life – where the evil forces of a character are indestructible and return to infect the living.

Someone must save the sisters from the power of the dead – and save them before their own personalities are irrevocably destroyed.

“There’s a whiff of evil about. I can always tell”.

What An Odour Of Decay lacks in characterization it makes up for in atmosphere and the main players at least have enough quirks to differentiate one from the other. Pacey, too: the three sisters are poleaxed by the pong early on in the proceedings (none of that subtle Jamesian malarkey for Jenson) and each have been possessed by the spirit of Alistair Tait by the time you hit chapter two. Their ensuing personality disorders are increasingly unsettling; Belinda suffers spectacular epileptic fits, Nan takes on Tait’s heartfelt belief that life is an unnecessary encumbrance when there’s more fun to be had dead and meek, hippy-ish student Sarah gets into exploring the joys of sadism in a big way with a dis-likable hitchhiker and Nan’s hapless boyfriend Lance (“a pop-orientated, bellbottomed, pun-dropping oaf with long hair that did not suit him”) copping the worst of her excesses.

Sensible Belinda’s sensible bloke, Terence – a perma-tanned, grey, forty-something square – senses there’s something evil afoot and gets to the bottom of it all without too much trouble thanks to chance meetings with a boozy Priest and a dolly-bird swinger he meets on his pub-crawls. For my money. the real star – decrepit Alistair Tate apart – is the evil-reeking stench itself which kicks up something scandalous; sheer essence of rotting corpse or, as Mr. Douglas the caretaker would have it, “it was like dung and cats pee combined, with a touch of tear gas thrown in”.

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Martin Jenson – The Village Of Fear

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Martin Jenson – The Village Of Fear (Nel, April 1974)

 Martin Jenson Village Of Fear

Cover photograph: Keef

“Strange screams split the night air as a young woman cries for mercy – but none is given. There are untoward happenings, things without explanation. In bewilderment the villagers can only fear a devil or an unquiet soul is abroad in their peaceful streets.

No one is safe from the violent and malevolent intruder. Doors are bolted, eyes peer from behind curtains. There seems no end as every fresh horror is revealed, till the very fires of Hell itself are burning in their midst.

The unknown enemy that fills the night with terror is the most deadly of them all – the enemy from Within.”

Review by Steve Goodwin

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. – Luke 21:22

In thy filthiness is lewdness, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. – Ezekiel 24

Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Never shoot a pigmy with a cannon. – The Village of Fear p.10

Wellesford is much like any other quiet, little English Village, with its cheery postman, its rows of quaint, white-fronted cottages, its elegant church with stout steeple, its Conservative Club…

We’re slowly but ever so surely submerged into this little world of parish magazines and boiled eggs for breakfast – rural England in the 1970s. Introduced in turn to Colonel Harry Rodgers, president of the aforementioned Wellesford Conservative Club (and his sagging wife, Dolly); Dave Marriot, manager of the local Social Club in his pale green silk suit “like an affluent bookmaker”; and shameless self-publicist and founder of the Wellesford Film Society, Tom Radcliffe complete with flares, peroxide blond wig – like Andy Warhol’s but lacking the pre-fabricated Pop Art “honesty” of Warhol’s ‘do’ – and “young, bright and promiscuous” live-in ‘friend’; Goldie of the “very large naked breasts”.

And then there is Austin Trench, M.A., Wellesford’s greying but wiry and well-tended, fifty-five year old vicar – his still powerful six-foot frame the result of years of self-denial. When we first meet Trench he seems very much your average country vicar, seated at his desk in his study, listening to the birds and the “faint rustling of the ivy” around the vicarage, at the same time drinking in the scent of “freshly clipped grass” from the churchyard outside his window.

But what is he scribbling obsessively in his notebooks? Why is he so nervous about the delivery of the small, black book in the brown paper parcel? And why does he suffer seizures and vomit up his breakfast egg when he communes with the Holy Spirit?

Jenson turns things up just one notch with every chapter.

It transpires that the Reverend Trench has discovered an ancient document in the corner of his crypt, a prophetic sermon which foretells how; “One day, men with unruly hair, wild eyed and lost in drink and other looseness” will threaten the peace and quiet, not to mention the moral rectitude, of this his little corner of England. Clearly, in Trench’s mind, a reference to those noisy, long-haired youngsters and their “sl*ttish” girlfriends who hang about outside the village Social Club of an evening. Furthermore, says our long-departed prophet of doom, we should “beware the falseness of corrupt brotherhood, the black laughter and the leperous wine of the hell-bent kinship”. Obviously the local Tories, who’ve just applied to extend their drinking licence (spot on there, I’d say…).

And what’s worse, that arrogant young trendy, Tom Radcliffe, is planning on screening Bunuel’s “blasphemous” Viridiana to an audience of naively unsuspecting villagers little prepared for the tide of filth which is about to engulf them cinematically speaking.

Radcliffe is, it must be said, a particularly irritating and self-serving character who speaks in headlines – “Raver Gives Rabies To Rapist!” – and has a habit of addressing people as, “baby”.

So what’s a reactionary, sexually-repressed flail of the Lord to do cast adrift in such Godless times? Listen to the voices in his head of course…

In Chapter 3, far and away my favourite so far, we’re introduced to the Yellow Helmets – where would any self-respecting NEL title of the 1970s be without at least one biker gang to spice up the proceedings?

The Helmets aren’t exactly your typical Angels from Hell though. The fifteen members – “ten of whom had their own bikes” – meet up each evening in the car park of the Social Club to share a couple of cans of shandy and enjoy a few games of tag and blind man’s buff. Their leader is Gunner an ex-Hell’s Angel who suffers from alopecia.

The ensuing showdown between hellfire Trench, a kind of unholy cross between Travis Bickle and Derek Nimmo, and our not-so-wayward angels is worth the purchase price alone, for my money.

“Return to the place where you learned your savagery!” (Coventry apparently), intones the silvery-headed, bible-toting ‘evan-gilante’.

“Bugger off, Vicar!” reply the Helmets from behind a hail of shandy cans.

And so onto the bar of the Conservative Club for a confrontation with Bunty Carmichael – “one of the louder ladies who attended the club regularly” – and a bed-hopping, buck-toothed builder’s wife who thinks everything is “creepy”.

At chapter’s end, we leave Austin Trench, M.A., brow-beaten but unbowed, back in his study consulting a copy of ‘The Urban Guerilla: His Methods’ and planning his Divine retribution.

Thus far it’s little short of New English gold. Strangely sinister and oddly unsettling, but I couldn’t really explain why. Not entirely what I was expecting, but really rather good.

See also Vault Of Evil’s Martin Jenson thread

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