I do at least understand a little more how fact and fiction work together. It’s like a steak and kidney pudding: without steak, there’s no substance; without kidney, there’s no savour. You need the proper mixture. Pure fact is too indigestible without the imaginative part that fills in the spaces between. That’s the only way to make a satisfying pudding.
Like his character Harry Stubbs, David Hambling knows how to blend fact and fiction.
Between jobs after the events of The Elder Ice
, ex-boxer and bill collector Harry Stubbs, our narrator, finds himself conducting Mr. Yang about the Norwood neighborhood of South London. It’s a favor to his old friend and sometime patron Arthur Renville — the “Consignment Man” who makes his money disposing of items reported as lost to insurance companies. Arthur wants to know the real reason Yang, member of the sinister Si Fan triad, has come to England in 1925.
East meets West in an adventure that brings in Theosophy, real life occultist Robert D’Onston Stephenson, Chinese politics, and a walking corpse. H. P. Lovecraft fans will come to attention when we hear about the local Whatley family and the notion that you can reconstitute the dead from their ashes. (Technically known as palengensis, an alchemical notion Hambling talks about in an article at Lovecraftezine.com
I liked the continuing hat tips Harry gives to his literary models and his asides on the art of boxing. Unflappable, a bit naïve at times, Harry keeps on growing as a man, and I certainly look forward to his next adventure.