The Hammer of Dr Valentine is the much-anticipated sequel to John Llewellyn Probert's novella The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine and, like its predecessor, is published by Spectral Press. In the first book, the titular medic carried out a series of elaborately gruesome murders on fellow members of his profession, the modus operandi of which were based on the films of Vincent Price. In this follow up, and employing the principle of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", another set of gloriously over the top murders are presented, dripping in Kensington Gore and modelled on the films produced by Hammer.
As with the first book, the author's enthusiasm for the subject matter leaps off the pages and the end result is yet another thoroughly entertaining - and yes, Proberty romp that will bring a smile to the face of anyone familiar with the classic British films that are referenced within. Actually, it will bring a smile to the face of anyone who reads it whether they're familiar with the source material or not as the author brings his trademark tongue-in-cheek style of writing to the proceedings, managing the tricky skill of presenting truly awful things happening to people in such a way that it's entertaining and yes, even enjoyable.
The people the terrible things happen to in this instance are journalists, specifically the journalists who collaborated on a book detailing the crimes perpetrated in Nine Deaths and John takes great delight in showing them up to be shallow and devious - so much so that you'll end up rooting for Dr Valentine. Who here has not whiled away the time thinking up gruesome ways of murdering a Daily Mail journalist? Yes you have. Admit it.
Some of the joy to be had from reading the book is working out which films are being referenced but John has done a grand job here "re-interpreting" the original death scenes and putting a new spin on them. There's enough of the original to make the nostalgic among us go "aaah..." but plenty originality to appreciate too. I didn't spot them all but have to admit to cheering when, in the book's climax, that scene from that Dracula film got a nod.
The good news is that this won't be the last we see of Dr Valentine. The final scenes drop a hint - or perhaps that should be premonition - of what's to come in the next book. DCI Longdon, Valentine's world-weary pursuer from the first book makes a welcome reappearance here and will hopefully feature in the next book too. Might be best if he doesn't make any trips across water though...
The Hammer of Dr Valentine is another highly entertaining, and ingenious piece of writing from John Llewellyn Probert and one which I highly recommend that you purchase. Which you can do here.
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