The Dead Book – Howard Hersey

pulpdeadbook01The good news is, it is short — only 134 of whatever arcane units the Kindle uses.

A group of men are stationed in Mindanao in the Philippines.  It is said that if you are stationed there, you should “forget that women ever lived, leave drink alone, and never worry.”

When one of the men, Carson,  commits suicide, Kennedy opines that “a white man was never intended for such a beastly life.”

Carson had become interested in a monastery on the island.  He learned that there was an old hand-painted bible there which had been brought over by Magellan.  The bible was kept behind a closed door, and chained to a desk.  It was said that anyone who spent a night studying it, would never come out alive.

Carson would be the first person to 50 years to examine the book.   When he entered with one of the monks, the monk fell, pulling a table a table over on top of him and crushing his skull.  This sent Carson screaming down the hall.  Carson is nursed back to health from what seems to be no more than a case of the willies.

This is where it gets confusing.  Carson believed a tarantula was behind the deaths.  In his quarters, he believed he saw the tarantula and shot himself.  Let’s examine that.

Kennedy’s theory is that Carson saw a red tie in the mirror and believed it to be the tarantula.  Ted Kennedy’s theory on Chappaquiddick is more believable.  Kennedy refers to “a string” in the book which I am interpreting as one of those ribbons that were used in bibles as a book mark.  That doesn’t look much like a tarantula to me.

Then he believes that Carson pulled out his pistol and pointed it over his shoulder to kill the tarantula, and accidentally shot himself.  Wouldn’t a shoe or the Sunday New York Times have been a more effective weapon (and equally reliable as a source of news)?

This could have been a good story in the vein of The Adventure of the Speckled Band or The Problem of Cell 13.  Instead, it is just a waste of time.


  • First published in The Thrill Book, July 1919.
  • Also that year:  1st Class Postage drops from 3 cents to 2 cents.  Wait, what?

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