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John Blackburn

(1923-1993)
John Fenwick Blackburn (born Northumberland, 26 June 1923; died 1993) was a British novelist who wrote thrillers, horror novels, and The Flame and the Wind (1967), an unusual historical novel set in Roman times, in which a nephew of Pontius Pilate tries to discover the facts about the crucifixion of Jesus. His horror novels are often structured as thrillers, with detective story plots involving international espionage, but leading to a supernatural resolution. This means that, as with some of the books of James Herbert, many of Blackburn’s horror novels are notable for pace and plotting rather than for atmospheric effects. Blackburn specialized in mixing modern concerns such as germ warfare and international conspiracies with ancient traditions and curses, often to ingenious effect. Many of his books feature stock characters, including General Charles Kirk of British Intelligence and his friends, the scientist Sir Marcus Levin and his Russian wife Tania. Blackburn’s novels Nothing But the Night and The Gaunt Woman were the basis for screenplays. The Gaunt Woman appeared as a made for TV movie in 1969 as Destiny of a Spy and Nothing But the Night was released to theaters in 1972.

A Scent of New-Mown Hay: Very suspenseful

Readers’ average rating:

 A Scent of New-Mown Hay by John Blackburn

The old whimsical phrase "there's fungus among us" might not sound so amusing after a reader finishes John Blackburn's first novel, A Scent of New-Mown Hay. This short (my New English Library paperback edition from 1976 is only 160 pages long) but densely written book originally appeared in 1958, and is a curious combination of sci-fi, horror and spy thriller. I first came to hear of it after reading a very laudatory article on the novel in the excellent overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. And yes, A Scent of New-Mown Hay certainly does contain its horrific elements, although the less said about them, the better. I'd hate to spoil any surprises for prospective readers.

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More books by John Blackburn

Most of John Blackburn’s work is out of print.

John Blackburn Children of the NightChildren of the Night — (1966) Publisher: A series of unfathomable but violent incidents has begun to plague the picturesque moorside village of Dunstonholme, none of which can be satisfactorily explained. The famed explorer, J Molden Mott, is staying in the village and is keen to investigate, especially after the Rev Ainger, a noted local historian, takes the time to fill him in on more detail. It seems that similar incidents have been going ever since a fanatical religious sect called the Children of Paul massacred the entire village before heading out to sea where they were presumed drowned. But Ainger believes otherwise, and Mott and the local doctor, Tom Allen, come to agree with his incredible theories that the sect actually stayed on the mainland and settled down Pounder’s Hole, a deep local cave, where they still remain nearly 700 years later as mutated creatures, telepathic and extremely dangerous. They also agree on a plan of action to deal with the sect before they return to the surface to act out the Day of Judgement. However, Ainger’s attempts to persuade his bishop backfires horribly, as he leads a thousand-strong crowd up onto the moors to greet the sect with love.


John Blackburn Children of the Night, Bury Him DarklyBury Him Darkly — (1969) Publisher: A diabolically imaginative story of murder by unseen forces, from the author of Children of the Night.

 


John Blackburn For Fear of Little MenFor Fear of Little Men — (1972) Publisher: One of the author’s best novels. Occult thriller about the revival of a pagan cult and its followers’ efforts to exterminate humanity.

 


John Blackburn Children of the Night, Bury Him Darkly, Our Lady of PainOur Lady of Pain — (1974) Publisher: John Blackburn again displays his talent for the macabre combined with the hair-raising suspense which has delighted so many readers. As Blackburn addicts have grown to expect from him, this is a real don’t-turn-off-the-lights horror story with a final, unthinkable twist at the end.