Sunday, June 18, 2023

Crossover of the Week

Autumn 1926 


Countess Alessandra Zorzi, a professional thief-for-hire, comes to Arkham, Massachusetts to steal a mummy found in Oklahoma. Two years ago, Alessandra stole a gargoyle from the cathedral of Vyones. A month after that, she pilfered a copper ring crafted in the shape of a serpent from a house in Mayfair. Philippa “Pepper” Kelly, who works as a cab driver in male disguise, has as her head dispatcher a short, fat man named De Palma. At the unveiling of the mummy at the Miskatonic Museum, Alessandra runs into her old acquaintance Tad Visser, a New Yorker, who says the crowd includes bigwigs from Miskatonic, Harvard, Yale, and even representatives from his alma mater, Empire State. Alessandra knows of others in her profession who are violent or lacking in restraint, such as “that charlatan, Lampini.” Her teachers included an elderly Englishman with an inordinate fondness for cricket, a melancholy albino who smoked opium-soaked cigarettes, and the incomparable Mr. Nuth. Alessandra tells Pepper, “As a gentleman of my acquaintance once said, one cannot make bricks without clay.” Alessandra and Visser discuss Arkady Cottonwood’s book The Oldest Rite, a single copy of which Alessandra has stolen five times for three different clients. She also once procured a book on horology for a fat man in New York with a fondness for orchids. 

An Arkham Horror novel by Josh Reynolds, Aconyte, 2020. Vyones is from Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne stories. The gargoyle is a reference to Smith’s “The Maker of Gargoyles.” The copper ring is the Serpent Ring of Set from Robert E. Howard’s Conan story “The Phoenix on the Sword.” De Palma is likely the father or grandfather of Louie De Palma, head dispatcher for the Sunshine Cab Company in New York, from the TV series Taxi. Empire State University will later be attended by Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. Lampini is Bruno J. Lampini, who appears in his own series of stories by Reynolds. Lampini is named after Professor Bruno Lampini from the movie House of Frankenstein. The elderly Englishman is E. W. Hornung’s amateur cracksman A. J. Raffles. The melancholy albino is Sexton Blake’s archenemy Zenith the Albino. Nuth is from Lord Dunsany’s story “How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon the Gnoles.” The gentleman of Alessandra’s acquaintance is Sherlock Holmes, who said “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay” in Doyle and Watson’s “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.” Arkady Cottonwood is from Reynolds’ story “Corn Wolf.” Cottonwood’s book The Oldest Rite is mentioned in several of Reynolds’ works. The fat orchid enthusiast is Nero Wolfe, although Alessandra’s acquisition of the book for him must have happened before he officially hung up his shingle as a private eye in 1930. Professor Tyler Freeborn mentions his expedition to the Great Sandy Desert with Professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee and Professor Ferdinand Ashley from “The Shadow Out of Time” as a past event. This reference must be disregarded, as that expedition took place in 1935, nine years after the events of this novel. 

This crossover writeup is one of hundreds included in my book Crossovers Expanded: A Secret Chronology of the World Volume 3, which will be published by Meteor House! All three volumes are AUTHORIZED companions to Win Scott Eckert's Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World Volumes 1 and 2!

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