THE COLLECTED CONNOISSEUR by Mark Valentine and John Howard. Leyburn, North Yorkshire, UK; Tartarus Press; 2010. 1st edition trade paperback.
Following in the footsteps of M.P. Shiel's exotic savant Prince Zaleski and Arthur Machen's Mr Dyson, Mark Valentine and John Howard's The Connoisseur - aesthetical detective extraordinaire - unravels a cornucopia of arcane mysteries in these twenty-three tantalising tales. Collecting together all the adventures in previous Tartarus volumes In Violet Veils and Masques and Citadels, along with four further tales published elsewhere, this volume provides the lover of esoteric mystery and adventure fiction with the complete Connoisseur casebook.
Venturing from his fire-lit study in an English cathedral city, The Connoisseur encounters, among other phenomena, strange masquerades in country houses; a Scottish island whose Prince may not be named; a poignant relic from the Black Sea region, sought after by a ruthless order; a secret account of the first crossing of an Arctic land and an Art Deco cinema which may retain resonances of its mysterious former occupants. From your own fireside, follow The Connoisseur into the delicate shading between this world and other realms of wonder, tragedy and trepidation.
Contents: 'Introduction' by Mark Valentine, 'The Effigies', 'After the Darkness', 'The Paravine Cries', 'Pale Roses', 'In Violet Veils', 'The Lost Moon', 'Café Lucifer', 'The Craft of Arioch', 'The Secret Stars', 'The Hesperian Dragon', 'The Lighting of the Vial', 'The Nephoseum', 'Sea Citadels', 'The Prince of Barlocco', 'The Black Eros', 'Mad Lutanist', 'The Mist on the Mere', 'The White Solander', 'The Last Archipelago', 'The Rite of Trebizond', 'The Serpent, Unfallen', 'The Temple of Time', 'The Descent of the Fire'.
Publication: 25th March 2010.
The Collected Connoisseur is a paperback of 308 pages.
Reviews of Masques and Citadels:
"A storyteller of impressive originality, Valentine writes with discipline and a deep understanding of the uncanny. A stunning Performance." - Underworlds Magazine
"There is a sort of gradual, cumulative unease which draws one on to read the tales a second or third time . . . the connoisseur of good books and good reading will appreciate The Connoisseur" - John Hall, Sherlock.
"What a splendidly quixotic aim: to restore a sense of the numinous to run-down secular old Britain!...It’s long been a tenet of mine that all the finest writers of the supernatural seek, in some way or another, to restore to the material world some sense of the numinous. Some do it by subtly warping one’s perception of the world till it more closely matches their own (Robert Aickman); some do it by capturing perfectly the genius loci of a particular place (Ramsey Campbell’s Merseyside); others (like Arthur Machen, Alan Garner, and our own Mr V), seek to re-energise the old touchstones of myth and magic. It’s a measure of his success, I think, that Mark Valentine’s name does not seem wholly out of place even in this exalted company." - Steve Duffy, All Hallows.
"It is possible to be too subtle and 'recondite'. " - Prism.
"Mark Valentine is surely one of the best writers working in the genre." - David Longhorn, Supernatural Tales.
Reviews of In Violet Veils:
“This is an interesting, if regrettably slim volume of highly original tales... In Violet Veils is nicely presented to complement the rich prose, and is not illustrated. This is a good thing: Mr Valentine conjures up quite enough vivid images in the reader's mind.” David Rowlands, Ghosts and Scholars.
“This is a very curious and wonderful book: curious because a contemporary author dares to write in a style and mode fashionable a century ago; wonderful because he does so with such apparent ease, perfectly matching sometimes purple but always precise prose with outre subject matter. In this slim, elegantly produced volume ... nine exquisite episodes...” Peter Cannon, All Hallows.
“Oh this is luscious! It's a hardback, 104 page special limited edition with an old-fashioned feel to it, but forget that, let's jump into this wonderful creation... guaranteed to enchant.” - Prism.
“Mark Valentine is a truly gifted writer and I hope that we have not seen the last of him or of the Connoisseur.” - Hellnotes.
Review of "The Descent of the Fire" [in Strange Tales, ed. Rosalie Parker]
"The descent of the fire" by Mark Valentine and John Howard represents my first encounter with The Connoisseur, the sleuth of the singular. The tale is a standing example of great storytelling, the very embodiment of the pleasure of reading. I wish I had not missed Valentine's two previous collections, now sadly out of print.' - Mario Guslandi, Infinity Plus.
2 COPIES AVAILABLE.