This month sees the reprint of Grey Face and The Green Eyes of Bâst, two masterful mysteries by the king of eerie occult fiction, Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (1883 – 1959), known to readers as Sax Rohmer. Although best remembered for his sizable collection of stories featuring the fiendish Dr. Fu Manchu, the author enjoyed great success with many of his other works. His standalone novels and book series containing Parisian criminal investigator Gaston Max attracted a large international fanbase. His tales concerning the female supervillain Sumuru went from radio to book and were eventually adapted to the big screen, spawning a couple of movies (produced in the 1960s and 1980s).
To date, Stark House Press has published four volumes containing the famous author’s occult masterpieces, with introductions by Rohmer scholar Gene Christie and William Patrick Maynard, who has authored further stories in the Fu Manchu series. This newest collection, for which I’m honored to have been permitted to provide the introduction, contains a pair of haunting classics from the early 1920s. The opener, Grey Face, first appeared in 1924 and is a disconcerting shocker concerning a ghastly phantom terrorizing London. An intriguing, elaborate plot and an especially memorable climax will stir readers.
The subsequent tale, The Green Eyes of Bâst, was serialized in magazines in 1920 and published in hardback soon after. This entertaining chiller was an immediate critical success as with the other story. Rather than a phantom face haunting one’s dreams, this story features an intriguing cat-like figure terrorizing the central character.
Both stories make for excellent fireside reading. And you can read more about the author and the reception and conception of these two novels in my introduction. Alas, you may need a magnifying glass to observe my name on the book’s cover. I’m rapidly shrinking with every publication. Nevertheless, the eye-popping book covers continually command attention.