Review: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw (novella)

A well executed Lovecraftian noir detective story set in South London. It treads a tricky path between horror and pastiche but it is well written and atmospheric.

A hard-boiled private detective, who is not what he seems, is hired by a 10-year old to kill the child’s violent stepfather. The case takes the detective to the suburbs of Croydon where he finds lurking horrors and a demonic contagion.

If that sounds like a setting for John Constantine then you may be disappointed that the narrating detective’s snarky voice is more 1940s New York than 1980’s Liverpool but otherwise this novella captures that same feel as the Jamie Delano era Hellblazer.

Novella length suits the story well – enough space for lingering menace but not long enough for the faux Sam Spade narration to become irritating.

There is apparently a sequel novella and I enjoyed this well enough that I’ll read that as well.



  1. Mark

    I also liked it, although the epilogue seems a bit tacked on, probably for the purposes of enabling the sequel(s).

    I remember I had to look up a lot of the hardboiled slang words!


  2. JJ

    I’m not a big fan of Lovecraftian fiction, but I found the story quite readable. I agree that the length was right; if it had been a full novel, there’s no way I would have been willing to read it. My decision on reading the sequel will depend on whether my library gets it in, other peoples’ reactions, and how much of my other 2016 and 2017 reading is still outstanding.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts!