Seabury Quinn’s occult detective Jules de Grandin first appeared in Weird Tales in 1925 and, in over 90 stories published over the next 26 years, he squared off against ghosts, werewolves, satanists, serial killers, and more sinister things. His adventures were among the most popular ever published in that venerable old pulp, surpassing even the legendary exploits of Robert E. Howard’s Conan and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
Publishers’s Weekly had this to say about the first installment of The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, The Horror on the Links, released by Night Shade Books in April 2017:
The first volume… is a fun, spooky trip back to the golden age of weird. Each story is narrated by de Grandin’s bemused and long-suffering friend Dr. Samuel Trowbridge, and most include de Grandin’s concluding explanation of the how and why of the events. Each story has its merits, but standouts include the shudder-worthy “The Isle of Missing Ships,” in which de Grandin and Trowbridge’s ship is overtaken by pirates; they end up stranded on an island where a strange man dwells in a lavish underwater cave and “long pork” is on the menu. “The Great God Pan” sees de Grandin and Trowbridge among a bevy of beauties in thrall to a strange guru. In other stories, the duo face werewolves, disembodied hands, and an evil scientist who keeps horrifying “pets” in his cellar. Seabury had a keen imagination and gift for atmosphere, and, even though modern readers may flinch a bit at some of the dated viewpoints and tropes, they’re likely to still have a grand time.
In the Jules de Grandin entry of The Nightmare Men, his long-running Black Gate series on occult detectives, Josh Reynolds offered his own thoughtful assessment of this great pulp hero. Here it is.
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While characters like Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence or William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki might be considered the archetypal occult detectives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, de Grandin is, perhaps, the primogenitor of those who came after. In de Grandin, one can see the antecedent of such later two-fisted occultists as John Thunstone, Anton Zarnak, and Titus Crow. Thunstone, created by Quinn’s contemporary (and friend) Manly Wade Wellman, often cameos in the de Grandin stories and vice-versa. The stories themselves, told from the perspective of the redoubtable Dr. Trowbridge, owe more than a nod to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, with Trowbridge being a less perspicacious stand-in for Watson. De Grandin himself, however, is less Holmes than Agatha Christie’s clever Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, given a pulp hero’s sheen.
De Grandin, like Thunstone or Zarnak, is an active fighter of evil. He is a hunter of monsters, a buster of ghosts and a banisher of eldritch entities of all stripes and persuasions. Indeed, given what hints de Grandin drops as to his lineage, it might be that he was simply pursuing the family business.
The Dark Angel, the third of five volumes in the set, arrived in hardcover from Night Shade on April 3. It contains The Devil’s Bride, the only full-length Jules de Grandin novel, plus ten other tales published between 1931 and 1933, and an appreciation by Darrel Schweitzer. Here’s the description.
Today the names of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, and Clark Ashton Smith, all regular contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales during the first half of the twentieth century, are recognizable even to casual readers of the bizarre and fantastic. And yet despite being more popular than them all during the golden era of genre pulp fiction, there is another author whose name and work have fallen into obscurity: Seabury Quinn.
Quinn’s short stories were featured in well more than half of Weird Tales‘s original publication run. His most famous character, the supernatural French detective Dr. Jules de Grandin, investigated cases involving monsters, devil worshippers, serial killers, and spirits from beyond the grave, often set in the small town of Harrisonville, New Jersey. In de Grandin there are familiar shades of both Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and alongside his assistant, Dr. Samuel Trowbridge, de Grandin’s knack for solving mysteries ― and his outbursts of peculiar French-isms (grand Dieu!) ― captivated readers for nearly three decades.
Collected for the first time in trade editions, The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, edited by George Vanderburgh, presents all ninety-three published works featuring the supernatural detective. Presented in chronological order over five volumes, this is the definitive collection of an iconic pulp hero. The third volume, The Dark Angel, includes all of the Jules de Grandin stories from “The Lost Lady” (1931) to “The Hand of Glory” (1933), as well as The Devil’s Bride, the only novel featuring de Grandin, which was originally serialized over six issues of Weird Tales.
Our previous coverage of Jules de Grandin at Black Gate includes:
The Nightmare Men: “The Phantom Fighter” by Josh Reynolds
The Horror on the Links: The Complete Tales of Jules De Grandin, Volume One by Seabury Quinn
Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries, edited by Stephen Jones
Here’s the complete publishing deets:
The Horror on the Links (512 pages, $34.99 hardcover/$19.99 digital, April 4, 2017)
The Devil’s Rosary (512 pages, $34.99 hardcover/$19.99 digital, September 12, 2017)
The Dark Angel (492 pages, $34.99 hardcover/$9.99 digital, April 3, 2018) — cover by Donato Giancola
All three books are published in hardcover by Night Shade Books.
See all our previous coverage of pulp titles here.