My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fabulous. Carter & Lovecraft is a wonderful homage to the weird tales of H.P. Lovecraft and a brilliant updating of those tales for a modern audience.
The story opens with a very grim series of child killings that made me think I wouldn’t be able to stick it out. It’s a rare book involving child torture or rape of any kind that I don’t wind up throwing across the room. But my devotion to H.P. Lovecraft is so ridiculous, I bent my own rule just to see where author Jonathan Howard was going with this. And I’m glad I did.
The initial serial killer story sets up Carter’s decision to leave the NYC police and become a private investigator and drops hints about what’s to come, but the phenomenon he encounters after that first chapter are more of the traditionally Lovecraftian type – disturbing, hallucinogenic in quality, but not grisly CSI-type stuff. So if the first two chapters gives you pause, as they did me, try to stick it out. The rest of the book is a clever, creepy thrill ride, but not at all graphic.
One quibble: Howard clearly wants to reclaim Lovecraft’s tales from those who feel Lovecraft’s racism means we should stop reading his works. So it was disappointing to see Howard engage in some very contemporary stereotyping of his own, when he has one character explain the behavior of the story’s Big Bad by making reference to “the mild kind of autism . . . Asperger’s.”
Howard may not agree with the character personally, but there’s no attempt to correct that character’s view, so it really rankled. Yes, that’s one line in a whole book. But it’s a big deal if you or someone you love has Asperger’s. It’s really no different from all those who are offended by Lovecraft’s perceived racism. Fear of people with Asperger’s may be a popular attitude these days, but it’s no better or different than Lovecraft’s own fear of inferior races. For me, that one line cost this book a five-star rating.