Henry L. Ratliff

Share Profile

Henry L. Ratliff

Henry L. Ratliff’s book reviews

(1912) Mystery (Murder/Treasure) / Thriller (Search) / Adventure (Quest)


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

Harry Rogers is sent away to school. It isn't a good school and Harry doesn't get on well at first. In the town he finds that two old sea captains are far better companions than his school mates. Captain Coffin has wonderful tales to tell. He also has a dark past and supposedly a buried treasure map. Captain Branscome is friends to both and a steadying influence. Harry has also become friends with Mr. Goodfellow, a carpenter and struggling architect.
The Captain's tales of treasure are thought of as just that, tales. This all changes when Aaron Glass, an ex-shipmate of Coffin's appears. Glass is an evil man fresh out of prison. He knows of the treasure and plans to get Coffin's map, at any cost.
Harry is call home at his father's death. His father was brutally murdered, it appears for the money in a cash box. Miss Belcher, a strong willed neighbor, Miss Plinlimmon, the housekeeper and Mr. Rodgers, a constable, begin to play an important part, as to the reason for the murder and the identity of the murderer.
Captain Coffin is later found dead near Harry's father. Two men are dead and money and a treasure map is missing. It is soon determined that Glass is the most likely suspect for the theft and murder.
Harry finds the treasure map. Soon all these players will become involved in a treasure hunt in the West Indies. They come to the treasure island. Now, their lives will be in danger from an even greater menace, Doctor BeauregardD (AKA Martin, The Man In Black, The Master of the Island).
The island is strange and it's master evil. The adventurers will soon find that there is more than one kind of poison on 'Poison Island'

08/30/2014
(1909) Ghost story (Pirates) / Thriller (Supernatural) / Nautical


R: * * * * *


Plot bullets

A ship is engulfed in a mist. This is no normal sea fog. Evil lurks in it, in the form of a ghost ship and it's blood thursty pirate crew.
A series of mysterious accidents begin at night. At first it is thought to be only the sailors tricks, or at worst, the result of their superstitious minds.
Strange forms that resemble ancient pirates are seen coming out of the sea to do mischief and murder.
One crew member after another, begin to die. The captain and officers no longer consider the accidents and sightings as mere superstition.
This ship, as perhaps many other ships that never reached port, must deal a life and death struggle with 'The Ghost Pirates'

I do not consider this a pirate story in the traditional sense.. The crew on board the ship must deal with supernatural beings. The fact that they were pirates in another life, is only a pretext for their blood thirsty designs


Hodgson considers his three stories, 'The House on the Borderland', 'The Boats of the Glen-Carrig' and this story as a trilogy. They are not sequels and not related, except for their emphasis on the supernatural presents of
beings, perhaps from another dimension.


The author is one of my favorite authors of unearthly fiction. His 'Carnacki, The Ghost Finder' is no mere story of things that go bump in the night. It is pure terror.


Read these stories by candlelight on a stormy night.
His 'Night Land' is one of my favorite sci-fi/adventure/pulp/romance/thriller stories of the future..



Posted: 2014/08/28 11:08 pm CDT



08/28/2014
(1922) Sci-fi (Natural disaster) / Adventure (Survival) / Romance


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

All is not well in the English channel. Many ships have not reached port and their are rumors of giant water spouts and whirlpools.
The events are precursors to a great earthquake. It raises the sea floor in the channel. There is now land above the waters between England and France.
One man is caught up in the turmoil. His life is in constant danger as he wanders. Landmarks have been obliterated and there are, at first, few others from whom to ask directions.
This tragedy, is however, the opportunity he needs to fulfill the conditions that will allow him to marry. The girls father demands a station in life that he does not have, currently.
At their last parting, they were caught up in one of the channel ship wrecks. The girl lost a precious heirloom. That ship is now above the waters and provides for yet another opportunity for adventure and danger, as her lover goes on a quest to recover it. Others know of that wealth and more. It is not safe, as people take the land and the law into their own hands.
Everyone's life has changed. His may change for the better, and all due to 'The Tremendous Event'.

08/27/2014
(1909) Sci-Fi (Futuristic view) / Adventure (peril in the air)


R: * * *


Plot bullets

Story of the future ( a 1909 look forward to 2000), when the mail is no longer carried by ship, but by dirigible.
The story has two distinctive paths.

o One is a story of the perils of the crowded skies and dangers associated with long distance lighter-than-air flight

o The second is a clever attempt at revealing the authors idea of future
events, via the articles and advertisements of the newspapers of the day.

The story is told from the writings of a passenger on one of the flights 'With The Night Mail'.


08/27/2014
(1962) Sci-fi (Invention) / Thriller (Future) / Short story (Magazine)


From 'Galaxy Magazine', 1962.


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

The atomic war is still going on. There are, in Cleveland, as in other cities, those who prefer to live above ground and those who seek what they hope is the safety in the underground city.
A writer and his wife choose to live above ground. The under ground city is continually searching for ways to make money and satisfy their need of creativity in an otherwise static existence..
The writer's friend, an underground dweller, comes to him for ideas for products that the underground manufacturers can produce for the benefit of all.
After much brain storming, the subject of a device to remind people of appointments and coming events, is conceived. It will be called 'The Tickler', which is an old time term for an office appointment/reminder calendar system.
The Tickler grows from a small simple device pinned to the shoulder, to a monster device that must be strapped to ones back. It performs its duties well, maybe too well.
Now the Tickler not only keeps you on track, it establishes the track you are to follow. Some call it the Tickler, others 'The Creature from the Cleveland Depths'.

08/27/2014
(1814) Mystery (Search) / Short story (From collection)


From the 1894, Chapman and Hall ]Christmas Stories'.


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

A Sea captain finds a bottle. In it is a note that may change the lives of several people.
It is not a treasure map, but a confession of past criminal deeds from a stranded, dying man.
It may be, if the wise and persistent sea captain has anything to do with it, not the ruin of two brothers and their families, but their deliverance.
Confession is good for the soul, and from any quarter, even if via 'A Message From the Sea'.

08/27/2014
(1870) Adventure (Survival) / Young Readers / Nautical (Ship wreck)





Plot bullets

Seven persons survive a ship wreck during a typhoon in the Celebes Sea. Soon, only five will be left to find their way to land or starve.
Those in the ships small boat are: Captain Robert Redwood his two children (a girl fourteen and a boy sixteen), an Irishman (the ships carpenter and family friend), and a Malay pilot (navigator) named Saloo.
A makeshift mast and sail aid them in landing on the East coast of Borneo. The captain can handle his ship at sea, but it is the Malay who knows this region and will keep them alive.
The father is constantly, but unintentionally, letting his children get into trouble, which presents action of a continual run of peril and salvation.
They learn to survive on the coast and head inland to find a settlement as they fear being detected by Malay pirates.
The Malay continues to provide wise council and prompt action to increase the survival chances of 'The Castaways'.

Reid's adventures are in the vein of those young reader adventure stories that supply fast and continuous perils to the brave, honest and upright characters. In all cases there is at least one person who has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of most of the new things they encounter, and takes a rather lecture-like approach to explain things to the others. I believe I will start calling them 'Encyclopedic Survival Adventures'.
08/27/2014
(1818) Satire(Romantic movement) / Humor / Gothic



R: * * * *




Plot bullets

Mr Glowry is a misanthrope. He dislikes humanity in general. He is the melancholy owner of Nightmare Abby, as it is called.
He surrounds himself with equally gloomy people. With servants like Raven, Graves and Deathshead, and guest like Mr Flosky, Mr Toobad, Mr Listless, and Mr Cypress. The old gentleman has only one hope for happiness, his son. But, that happiness can only be achieve if he can bring him down to his level of glum.
Scythrop is Glowry's son. He is currently recovering from a failed romance. One his father did not allow, due to an economical mismatch. Scythrop, develops, through his readings of the modern thought of the day, like transcendental metaphysics and such, a plan to correct the worlds woes.
Scythrop's world changing ideas are temporarily on hold due to what appears as a disinterested world, and two ladies, Marionetta and Stella,. He is in love. His efforts fail on all fronts.
There are no true ghosts to haunt the mansion, only the common place spirits of man trying to make sense of things at 'Nightmare Abbey'.

08/23/2014
(1919) Espionage/ Mystery (Detective) / Pulp


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

The embassy's box with the broken seals has little to do with this story. It was a ruse that fooled many, but not James Crawshay of the English Service.
Jocelyn Thew created that diversion, to begin on an even bolder plan. He has stated the he will take important papers (that reveal the names of German spies) from America to Germany and brags that no one can stop him.
Their are men who will take great risks for money,excitement or a cause. Thew, has money, needs excitement and has a cause.
Thaw gains the help of Katharine Beverley, due to an old debt of her brothers. She is pressed into service as a nurse for a dying man, who wishes to return to the place of his birth. She becomes Thaw's red herring to confuse the workings of his enterprise.
A battle of wits continues across the Atlantic between Crawshay and Thew. Thaw's arrogance causes him to underestimate Crawshay's intelligence, but Thaw is very clever.
The trip across the Atlantic has become one of point and counter point. And it all began with 'The Box With Broken Seals '.

This is one of those gentlemanly adversarial plots that ends well and even the bad guy, isn't so bad after all.
08/23/2014
(1907) Horror (Monsters/supernatural Beings) / Adventure (Survival) / Nautical (Ship wreck)


R; * * * * *


Plot bullets

The sailing ship Glen Carrig, has foundered. Two lifeboats with a few survivors must deal with not only thirst and hunger, but the strange and deadly beings that they encounter, as they try to find hospitable land..
They first come across an island, and barely escape the almost supernatural beings living there. The trees on the island mimic or have turned past stranded souls to to tree shaped humans.
Their second landing is on an island in the middle of a vast sea of seaweed, much like that of the famous Sargasso Sea.
This vast mass of weed has also trapped ships in it's floating web. One of the ships has people aboard who have been stranded there for seven years.
There is now only one lifeboat, due to a separation in a storm. The few men aboard must fight for their lives and try to rescue the others.
The sea around the weeds is inhabited by giant devil fish (Octopus) and a deadly type of ghoulish creature that attacks by night.
The men are perched on a rock in the middle of the wed. The ship is too far off to get to easily, due to the creatures in the wed. All may be lost for the stranded ship and the crew from 'The Boats of the Glen Carrig'.

08/22/2014
Christine Benedict - Award Winning Mystery Thrillers
FEATURED AUTHOR - Christine Benedict studied creative writing at Baldwin Wallace and Cleveland State Universities. Her short stories have been finalists for Perigee Publication for the Arts, The Fish Short Story Prize, and an honorable mention in Glimmer Train Press. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Anonymous. Please give us a short introduction to what Anonymous is about. In the mystery thriller Anonymous, Debra Hamilton faces the fear of inheriting her mother’s mental illness when her… Read more