Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Comparative Anatomy – 2022

“Magic always stops at midnight,” says the doomed narrator in the title story of Stephen Gallagher’s career-spanning collection, Comparative Anatomy, but while that may be true, the reader will find no end to the magic in these thirty astonishing tales by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers. From the inimitable postwar melancholy of a forlorn ghost bound to the house in which it died in “Twisted Hazel,” and a common man’s misguided attempt to temper grief in “Shepherds’ Business,” to the unsettling demands of an overbearing family desperate to reap the rewards of vicarious fame in “Little Dead Girl Singing” and the collision of disparate personalities among wicked children and bizarre religion in “The Butterfly Garden,” Comparative Anatomy is as much a meditation on what it means to be alive as it is an exploration into what may await us when we die.

Subterranean Press

Subterranean’s Best of series does justice to an undeservedly obscure genre author, here highlighting the ways Gallagher (The Bedlam Detective) renders ingenious concepts and fully realized characters, both human and supernatural, through lambent prose. Gallagher’s recurring hero Sebastian Becker, an Edwardian-era Special Investigator for the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy, makes a welcome return in the unexpectedly moving “One Dove,” in which inquiries into a suicide by the recipient of a lock of hair and a pressed flower expose a series of crimes. “The Governess” is a brilliant sequel to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger stories. Gallagher deepens the personalities of Challenger and his friend turned son-in-law, Edward Malone, and brilliantly blends the chilling and the heart-breaking; the two men have become estranged, despite their many shared adventures, but Malone reaches out for help after a disturbing experience with a ghost. Three of these 30 tales have never before been published, including the masterful “Shepherds’ Business,” in which a doctor moves to a remote British island in 1947, where he gradually discovers horrors beyond his wildest imagining. Fans of Arthur Machen and Stephen King will be especially captivated. 

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Oh, wow. That’s great. Well done us. I’ll even take ‘undeservedly obscure’ – the spotlight may have moved on but I don’t envy those who stay in it by repeating the same shtick ad infinitum. I’d go mad. I’m overhauling my website and f*** me, there’s at least five different careers in there.

SG response to publisher email