It’s 1788 in Dublin. Thomas Olocher has just been found guilty of the horrific rape and murder of a woman in the city. He is sentenced to death and sent to spend his last night in the towers of The Black Dog prison. Being the coward he was he smuggled in a blade and took his own life before he could be hanged. From that moment on, Dublin Is terrorised by The Dolocher, a mysterious beast on a murderous rampage. Stalking the streets at night, it is said the beast hosts the soul of Olocher and it is searching out the woman who sealed his fate. It falls upon Alderman James and the local blacksmith to solve the mystery before more lives are lost. This proves not to be a simple task.
Hands up again for never hearing of European P. Douglas before but by God what a fantastic name. It’s a name I think you may hear more of in the future after reading this and certainly one I will keep my eye open for. This story initially caught my eye for the period in which it was set. I’m going through a phase of liking the older style horror and this little gothic beauty doesn’t disappoint.
It’s an easy read. The writing is well thought out and flows very well. It centres on the Alderman of Dublin and a mysterious man by the name of Edwards who roam the streets most nights trying to pre-empt an attack by The Dolocher and putting an end to its murderous rampage. As main characters they work very well together, the Alderman being the stereotypical stressed official trying to save the city and his own arse at the same time while Edwards has a more cavalier approach and takes things very lightly, being drunk most of the time. In some ways he reminds me of Hodgson’s Carnacki in his attitude. Also entering the fray are the local blacksmith, Mullins and a local prostitute called Kate. They also work perfectly together becoming closer and closer as the story progresses.
Being set in 1788 you would expect a bleak atmosphere and again this does not disappoint. The descriptions of the awful conditions the people had to live in do at times make you want to vomit but it is very effective in setting the scene. The clear distinction between the lower classes and the upper echelon again shows the awful abuse that was passed down on people for no other reason than snobbery.
When it makes appearances, the beast is creepy. Described as an enormous pig like beast with long black fur and huge slashing teeth that can rip a human throat out in seconds, when you know it’s coming, the heart rate definitely accelerates. The way the story is written you never know when it’s going to attack so you’re on edge for almost all of the story waiting on it to pounce. Think old Hammer films when Peter Cushing is stalking Dracula, creeping down black and white alleys. You know he’s going to jump out. You just don’t know when.
Mr Douglas has written this in such a way that you have no idea who or what The Dolocher may be. Is it Human? Is it a hideous beast? Does it even exist? The answer to this question isn’t revealed until the last few pages of the story and believe me, if you manage to figure out who or what it is before it is revealed, change your name to Sherlock Holmes cause you are a genius.
A well written gothic horror with plenty of heart in mouth moments coupled with “where the hell is it?” moments, The Dolocher is one to read on dark windy nights when you’re in the house by yourself and the electric has just gone off.