The Horror Chambers of Jules de Grandin

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Horror Chambers of Jules de Grandin [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] by Seabury Quinn. See also The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin series.

Quinn the Horror Chambers of Jules De Grandin

This volume is one of a series of collected Jules de Grandin stories drawn from the body of ninety-three originally published in the pulp era pages of Weird Tales. As usual, they are “detective” stories ranging a gamut of mundane to magical menaces. The French sleuth himself is reliably amusing, giving vent to various exclamations in his characteristic idiom. “Pains of a dyspeptic bullfrog, I am greatly annoyed, me!” (59)

Two of these six stories feature villainy involving the Burmese worship of the goddess Kali: “The Gods of East and West” and “Stealthy Death.” The one completely un-supernatural tale is “The House of Golden Masks,” concerning an international human trafficking operation abducting young women from New Jersey. Grudge-bearing spirits of the deceased feature in both “The Poltergeist” and “The Jest of Warburg Tantavul.” The latter story is notable for de Grandin’s entirely non-judgmental attitude toward incest.

There are also two tales in which de Grandin brings in consultants for their esoteric expertise and powers. “The Gods of East and West” features the “full-blooded Dakotah” Doctor John Wolf, and a Muslim thaumaturge Doctor Hussein Obeyid comes to the aid of Dr. Jules in “A Gamble in Souls.” This second helper is so vividly drawn that I suspected author Seabury Quinn must have used him in other stories as well, but editor Robert Weinberg in his afterword says that it is disappointingly not so.

Quinn’s stories were frequently featured on the covers of Weird Tales, inevitably with illustrations of their climactic moments. “The Gods of East and West” supplied the cover for January 1928, depicting the scene on p. 37 of this book. June 1929 showed “The House of Golden Masks” with the action on p. 92. The others in this book did not make it to cover art.