“Atkins is a brilliant supplier of shudders and splendors.”—Clive Barker
A dark avenger from the pages of a 1930s pulp magazine, Strange Thrills materializes in the present day streets of Manhattan. This scourge of muggers and rapists is the Blue Valentine, dressed like Fred Astaire gentleman vigilante.
But he is not the only character coming alive in modern New York, and not even his creator¹s fertile imagination could have prefigured the carnage to come.
Valentine Dyson¹s mysterious awakening from the yellowed pages of Strange Thrills coincides with a car smash that leaves his creator, Norbert Read, an old man now, in a coma. As a shadowy nemesis of evil, Valentine is infamous among pulp scholars for being the most vicious and amoral of all such cloaked avengers, but Norbert Read had abandoned his character after only a few stories.
The Blue Valentine first reveals his identity to a goodtime New Yorker Avis, whom he saves from attack by a razor-wielding wino on the Bowery. In tuxedo and opera hat, a blue flower in his buttonhole, the shade of the gentleman crime fighter confirms to Avis that he is a ghost, returned because Manhattan has need of him again. Then the Blue Valentine drags the unconscious mugger into an alley to torture him to death.
Avis tracks down the one story Norbert Read wrote that survives in book form: Big Thunder, in the anthology Bedside Creeps. It does not feature Valentine Dyson. The story is about a small Western town of that name whose inhabitants trampled, at the expense of their lives, on the peace of the spirits that were there before. Big vengeance is in store.