182-thickbox_defaultDeath’s Sweet Echo
Maynard and Sims
Tickety Boo Press
December 3, 2015
Reviewed by C.M. Saunders

The London-based dark fiction duo of Maynard & Sims (or Len & Mick to credit their first names) have been active since 1972 when they first started perfecting their unique brand of understated British horror. Since then, they have produced a remarkably expansive body of work encompassing sixteen novels and scores of novellas and short stories spanning the whole genre spectrum. They are best known for their series of hard-boiled crime thrillers featuring DCI Jack Callum, but would perhaps be more recognisable amongst horror afficianados for their supernatural crime series Department 18, an adaptation of which won the 2013 British Horror Film Festival Award for Best New Screenplay. This is their tenth collection of short fiction.

So what ‘ave we here, then?

In short, a bumper collection of thirteen tales, most of which have never before seen the light of day. It kicks off with a story called “Glorious Dilapidation,” in which a man takes his wife to visit a place from his childhood. Great care is taken to build the character and as a result the story takes a little time to get moving, but when it does it is worth the wait. It’s followed by “Another Bite of the Cherry” (previously published as “The Curse of the Mummy”) which, as the original title suggests, has more than a touch of Hammer Horror about it. This one is let down slightly in my opinion by a somewhat bemusing ending, but until then is a very capable study of how destructive love can be, set against a well-crafted West End theatre back drop. One of the most accomplished examples on offer here is “Silver,” a trippy and weirdly unsettling yarn about a man forced to send his daughter into rehab. When she starts seeing things in and around a lake on the grounds, nobody is sure whether to believe her or not. Until, that is, events are taken to a whole new level. A personal favourite of mine has to be “And it Goes Like This,” the cautionary tale of a stand-up comedian on the slide who encounters a very familiar visitor from his past. Any story that can get away with name-checking Jack Dee has to be worth a read.

Death’s Sweet Echo is sure to delight Maynard & Sims’ legion of existing fans, as well as serving as a capable introduction for those less familiar with their dark wares. If you want eyeball-pricking levels of blood and gore you won’t find too much of that here, the authors instead cultivate their distinctive brand of psychological terror with a decidedly British flavour. On the down-side, there are some annoying bouts of head hopping along the way, which should really have been picked up during the editing process. These guys have been around long enough to know better. But all things considered this is a very accomplished work and a thoroughly decent read. Recommended.

For more information, go to maynard-sims.com.