Saturday, November 03, 2007

T Peter Park Review of Kim Newman's Big Fish

Dear Chris and fellow Lovecraftians,

How many of you are familiar with the story "The Big Fish" by Kim Newman? It was originally published in the October 1993 Interzone, and reprinted in Cthulhu 2000: A Lovecraftian Anthology, edited by Jim Turner (Arkham House, 1995; Ballantine, 1999). I believe it has also been reprinted in some other Lovecraftian horror anthologies as well.

I read "The Big Fish" about a month ago, and found it an excellent sequel to HPL's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." Set in a Southern California seaside town in February 1942 a couple of months after Pearl Harbor as Japanese-Americans are being interned, it is narrated by a hard-boiled whiskey-gulping private eye out of Dashiell Hammett who discovers that a far bigger and older war than the one with Hirohito and Tojo is going on off the beach of Bay City. He has been hired by jungle-flick B-picture actress Janey Wilde to locate her racketeer boy-friend Laird Brunette who has disappeared along with their baby boy Franklin after ditching her for rival film-goddess Janice Marsh and joining a crackpot Southern California religious cult called the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Visiting the Venice CA headquarters of the cult, he meets none other than their high priestess--Janice Marsh with her bulging eyes, the cult's official "Captain's Daughter," born in Innsmouth MA and a great-great-granddaughter of Captain Obed Marsh and his Polynesian bride. Checking up on one of Brunette's gangster buddies who might know something of the missing racketeer's whereabouts, he finds the gangster murdered--and runs into a multi-national crew of gumshoes, including a beefy FBI agent, an Englishman, and a Frenchwoman, who ask him if he knows anything about Cthulhu, R'lyeh, Y'ha-nthlei, the Deep Ones, or the Esoteric Order of Dagon. The FBI agent, it turned out, had led the 1928 FBI raid on Devil's Reef off Innsmouth.I won't give away the ending--except to say our hero later on meets a decidedly ichthyoid naked Janice Marsh as a truly weird "mermaid," and finds out about a decades-old second war against an ancient sea-borne enemy far more serious than the Japanese!

All in all, I found it an immensely enjoyable story!

Cheers,T. Peter

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