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The Black Fedora

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1991.

The town of Lichfield is celebrating Festival week. The highlight of this year's Festival is a reconstruction of the siege of the cathedral by Parliamentarian troops during the Civil War. The police have big problems: assassination threats have been issued against the guest of honour, Polish Premier Kosminski, reputed to be descended from Jack the Ripper; the priceless Lichfield Gospels are under threat of vandalism and theft; and they receive a tip off that the Antichrist is scheduled for a personal appearance. Just to add to their problems, various murders have already taken place. True to form, everything happens and the man in the black fedora is at the centre of it all.

A runner up in the 1989 Lichfield Literary Prize (the non-genre winner, Valerie Kershaw's Rockabye, was also published), this is not the best Guy Smith, but by no means the worst. His second attempt at expanding his talent somewhat into the thriller genre after 1983's Blood Circuit, he weaves all the strands of plot together satisfactorily and still manages a twist at the end. I would have expected die-hard fans to be disappointed by the relatively low amount of sex and gore, but they have taken the man in the black fedora to their hearts as a favourite character. Proving in the end to be just as worthy as many of his more traditional gore novels, just don't expect it to be as memorable as Fiend or as tacky as The Sucking Pit, and you'll find it almost as enjoyable as either.

One sequel so far: The Knighton Vampires (1993), but Smith is almost certain to return to the character.

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