was, in its day, the proving ground for several popular authors of weird fiction. Who would you say was its most popular— HP Lovecraft
? Robert E. Howard
? Clark Ashton Smith
It was this man.
Seabury Grandin Quinn (aka Jerome Burke; 1889 - 1969) was a frequent contributor to Weird Tales
, an author of some five hundred short stories (and one novel, Alien Flesh
, published posthumously in 1977). His most successful creation was the occult investigator Jules de Grandin, who featured in over ninety stories published between 1925 and 1951 (including a novella, The Devil's Bride
). Several of his stories tied or even beat out more currently-known works of Howard or Lovecraft in reader surveys. He also had a most oddly suitable day job for a Weird Tales
author; he edited Casket and Sunnyside
, the trade journal for the American Undertakers' Association.
So what happened? Hard to say. After his death, many of the Grandin stories were put out in mass-market paperback compilations from Popular Library in the early 1970s, but reprints were never done, and recent collections of his work have been in much smaller runs by independent publishers. A few of his stories have entered the public domain and can be found with searching, and many individual stories have been reprinted in various horror and weird fiction anthologies. Give them a try-- you might like them.
For YMMV tropes about Quinn's works, go here
- Artistic License – Physics: The description of radium interacting with electricity in "The Chapel of Mystic Horror" just doesn't make sense— perhaps Quinn misunderstood the electroconductive properties of radium.
- Badass Boast: de Grandin makes several, but the one in "The Corpse-Master" is one of his best (see below).
- Badass Mustache: We usually don't think of them as thin and waxed, but M. de Grandin makes it work.
- Big Eater: Sometimes it seems like one of the things Jules de Grandin values most about his friendship with Dr. Trowbridge is access to Dr. Trowbridge's excellent cook.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: "The Brain-Thief"
- Captured by Cannibals: "The Isle of Lost Ships".
- Damsels in Distress: Plenty!
- Expy: Jules de Grandin is pretty much Abraham van Helsing with a soupçon of Hercule Poirot.
- Funetik Aksent: Throughout various stories.
- Half-Breed Discrimination: The villain's motivation in "The Isle of Lost Ships".
- Hollywood Voodoo: "The Drums of Damballah" does avoid the usual Voodoo Doll business, but also has Human Sacrifice and the use of an inverted cross.
- I'm a Humanitarian: "The Isle of Lost Ships", "Children of Ubasti"
- Mad Doctor: A couple, but the one in "The House of Horror" rates special mention.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: The villain in "The Isle of Lost Ships".
- The Mourning After: See Tragic Monster below.
- Occult Detective: Jules de Grandin.
- Officer O'Hara: Not surprising, given the time period many of the stories were written in; Sergeant Jeremiah Costello, in particular, shows up in several stories.
- Our Monsters Are Different
- Our Ghosts Are Different: If blessed hawthorne and prayer doesn't dispel them, try radium salts to disrupt their electromagnetic resonance! (Note: the story this occurs in, "The Chapel of Mystic Horror", predates Ghostbusters by over half a century!)
- Our Vampires Are Different: The whole Wooden Stake thing? Averted, at least in "The Man Who Cast No Shadow". On the other hand, "Restless Souls" goes with more traditional vampirism (must be invited in, fears holy relics, etc.).
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Some are created by curses ("The Gentle Werewolf"), some by pacts with infernal powers ("Uncanonized"), some by accident ("The Blood Flower") and some by deliberate infection ("Bon Voyage, Michele"). And enough large-caliber shots will take one out regardless of the bullets' metal content (in "The Blood Flower")...
- "The Wolf of Saint Bonnot" is a ghost (yes, Our Ghosts Are Different this time too) who induces lycanthropic madness in others.
- Past-Life Memories: The driving plot element in Alien Flesh.
- Poirot Speak: Jules de Grandin, mais oui! Sometimes other characters as well.
- Reincarnation Romance: "Ancient Fires", "The Globe of Memories"
- Scaled Up: "The Tenants of Broussac".
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: A few (titles omitted for spoiler purposes); zigzagged in one story. "The Doom of the House of Phipps"
- Science Marches On: "Terror on the Links" asserts that only chimpanzees, of the large primates, are capable of tool manipulation with their opposable thumbs; subsequent decades of primatology have shown otherwise. It also assumes gorillas are the most aggressive and dangerous of apes.
- The Scully: Dr. Trowbridge, who you think would be more inclined to believe de Grandin's theories after a few adventures. ("The Silver Countess" is a particularly good example of this.)
- Star-Crossed Lovers: See Tragic Monster below.
- Sword Cane: Jules de Grandin's weapon of choice.
- Third Law of Gender Bending: Alien Flesh, and how. It even plays Eek, a Mouse!! completely straight, with the narrator thinking of how in his old male life mice didn't bother him.
- Tragic Monster: Quite a lot of stories have women who become monsters through misfortune or trickery (or are Cute Ghost Girls); they fall for a male character, and find that they cannot escape their monstrous state short of death, usually in the form of a Heroic Sacrifice for the sake of their beloved.
- Unusual Euphemism: Jules de Grandin may just outdo Captain Haddock— in his debut story alone ("Terror on the Links") we get "Nom d'un petit porc!"note , "Name of a little blue man!", "Nom d'un petit bonhomme!"note , "Nom d'un fusil!"note , "Par le barb d'un bouc vert!"note , and "Mort d'un rat mort!"note . And it just keeps going from there...
- Voodoo Zombie: "The Corpse-Master"
- The Watson: Dr. Trowbridge. Interestingly, his debut (in "The Stone Idol") predates de Grandin's by six years, but he settled into this niche comfortably for the rest of Quinn's career.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Trowbridge is taken aback when Grandin threatens to stab a rather foolish spiritualist in "The Wolf of Saint Bonnot". True, she's kind of a Jerkass and the one responsible for the mess (and almost responsible for preventing the monster from being destroyed)— but she is not deliberately malicious and de Grandin comes off unusually nasty for once.
- Would Hurt a Child: Averted in "The Corpse-Master", including a fairly graphic description of the poor little girl's corpse—leading to Manly Tears and one of Jules de Grandin's fiercest Badass Boasts:
"Sang du Sant Pierre, I, Jules Grandin, do swear that I shall find the one who caused this thing to be, and when I find him, though he take refuge beneath the very throne of God, I'll drag him forth and cast him screaming into hell. God do so to me, and more also, if I do not!"
- World War I: de Grandin is a veteran of the Great War, which shapes a couple of attitudes of his: he is grateful to the American soldiers who fought on the side of France, and he does not like Germans.