Black Magic: The Hand of Doom by J.M. Walsh (1927)

Grennel and Crammond (I think they have first names too but they never registered and I am too bored to look them up) are two collectors but while Crammond is someone who is generally interested in the antique artifacts that come his way as a way of increasing his knowledge, Grennel is a fence who is unscrupulous in his buying and selling of the artifacts. When the novel opens, the two men are in Crammond’s place, going through the lot that he has recently purchased. Of the items, Crammond is most excited about the mummified hand of Egyptian princess Nepert who lived some six-thousand years ago. When the object is unwrapped, a curious smell of spices fills the air and both men are assaulted by a feeling of apprehension. There is a papyrus alongside but before Crammond can decipher the hieroglyphics, there is a telephone call for him and he goes out to attend it. Grennel who knows the absentmindedness of his friend, pinches the hand and takes it home.

The next day, Crammond tells Grennel that the hand has disappeared but that he has been able to decipher the curious wording on the papyrus. It seems there is a curse on the hand because it reads: “The Hand shall seek you out”. That day as a nervous Grennel gets into bed, he smells again the curious spices and then the handle of his room shakes violently. The hand has sought him out.

This novel begins extremely well and I thought it was going to be another Monkey’s Paw but it soon descends into the savagery of the Black races; the unspeakable rites; the horror of mixed-races; and the divine right of White womanhoodđŸ„± [The plundering of the tombs in Egypt is, of course, only for scientific advancement and oh so civilizedđŸ€]

But what I found unforgiveable was the fact that no explanation (not even a supernatural one) was given for certain incidents. The end is so hurried that it leaves many threads hanging out. However, the book seems to have been extremely popular because it had gone into a second printing right in the month of its first printing: January 1927. Apparently, White girls who even in a semi-conscious state uphold the honour of the Empire by giving a shiver of repulsion when touched by a Black man were extremely popular 😜

Have you read this author? Is he worth further exploration?

*

First Line: Grennel, ran his forefinger round his neck inside his collar.

Publication Details: January 1927. London: John Hamilton Ltd, January 1927.

Pages: 288

7 thoughts on “Black Magic: The Hand of Doom by J.M. Walsh (1927)

  1. This is definitely a book I will not be seeking out, Neeru. The attitudes are bad enough – very bad indeed, in my opinion. Add to that the lack of explanation and that’s enough to put me off this one. No, not for me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margot, more than the attitudes, it is the lack of explanation that I found irritating. I remember reading a book by another Australian author, Fred M. White and it was the same story. Very intriguing things left hanging in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, he has written a number of mysteries too which going by their titles are very interesting. I don’t think I’ll be able to resist though I will curse myself in the end.😔

      Liked by 1 person

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