When if first watched "Garth Margenghi's Darkplace" several years ago I was in on the joke. In one of those wonderful twists of fate I had recently discovered the mutant crab infested, werewolf and other assorted monsters of the world of Guy N. Smith. Like any sensible reader when I discovered that there was a series of books about giant crabs killing naughty folks across the U.K. I knew it had to be mine. "Darkplace" stars Mathew Holness (someone just give him buckets of money to make things, okay?) as a, well, hack horror writer of the 80's vintage. Margenghi is based on a few other writers of the very British style of horror, but Guy N. Smith is probably the main inspiration. And I think it's a loving tribute. Holness seems to have a real passion for the 70s/80s paperback world, check for "A Gun for George" some wonderful, loving jabs at the world of Men's Adventure. Oh, do yourself a favor and watch "Darkplace" too.
Now, I love Guy N. Smith's work. There's no pretention. The pedal is always to the metal. The ideas a wild and BIG. It's pure and nasty brand of pulp. It's especially how I like my horror fiction which has the tendency in this post Stephen King world to be bloated and overwrought and sadly often devoid of giant crabs. "Satanic Apocalypse" snuck up on me, for some reason I had completely missed that he had written a three-book series about a mysterious spy/government fixer named John Mayo who wears a big black fedora and often finds himself mixed up in the occult realm of espionage. While waiting for the first book to arrive from England I got a jump on the series with the third book, one of Smith's last published works via Amazon prime. It's a nice little mass-market sized paperback from Sinister Horror Company. So, they can still make 'em the right size, hmm.
John Mayo is a retired spy-guy who lives with an understanding girlfriend, his hat and a .38 revolver. Other than that, we get the briefest of backstory about a gruesome murder of his family you don't know much else about him. Of course, I'll probably learn more when I read book #1. He gets turned loose on an assignment to stop a home-grown terrorist cell who's been committing random acts of murder. Oh, and they have a devil-worshipping leader. Oh, and he's supposed to find a missing lady. Now here's the rub. This is a particularly good book? Probably not. Everything falls into Mayo's lap with very little effort on his part. He just happens upon the baddies, the girl and everything at every first available opportunity. Is it a fun book? YES. There's a bit of action, there's a bit of satanism, some bombs, some gruesome murders, forest fires, talk of fedoras and even a miniature version of the "animal on the muck killing everyone having sex" novel that Smith is famous for. I could almost see the paperback cover "Guy N. Smith's WILD BOAR."
Guy N. Smith's work isn't for everyone. This one might not even be for his usual audience, as that there's really no "horror" going on here. It's really just a Men's Adventure novel in a horror-books-clothing. I'm excited to try out the other Mayo books, there a little like Sabat-light. The origin of the character is fun too, Smith just saw a guy at a wedding refusing to take his hat off in the church. Then the guy gave Smith the hat! Character's are everywhere.