1963 Detroit is a hotbed of gambling, and the weekly baggage auctions keep a busy trade. Charlie Stewart and Joey Third are skilled in the art of successful bidding, but when Joey lands a mysterious suitcase, the thrill of winning turns to terror once they realize they’ve opened something sinister.
Inside the suitcase is an antique gramophone, and the music it plays is unlike anything they’ve heard before. A chanting voice speaks to them in strange words, evoking visions of a dark, frozen land. It’s a voice that makes them sick with addiction, and it continues chanting in their heads even when the record stops playing.
Charlie sets out to solve the mystery of the unholy music and how to turn it off forever. But the urge to listen grows stronger, and the more it plays, the more the aural virus spreads, until people begin to vanish . . . feeding an apparition that seeks immortality.
Last Case at a Baggage Auction is the first I have heard of Eric J. Guignard, the 2019 Bram Stoker Award winner for Doorways to the Deadeye, and that is a travesty. I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled across his works sooner. I can’t help but feel a little downbeat from the lost time. However, I was happy to find that Guignard has a whole line up of books for me to devour in the near future.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk about Guignard’s past works but instead to talk about Last Case at a Baggage Auction and let me say now that its an absolute blast. This is a short read of only 133 pages and most avid readers will tear through in a single sitting. Me, being a slow reader and a parent of three with a full-time job, took a little longer so I apologise if you have been waiting for my review.
Being a novella it doesn’t take long to get to the action and we soon get a feeling about our protagonists most likely less than savoury past with borderline gambling addictions that lead us nicely at the start of our story with baggage auctions. Charlie and his good friend Joey, make a living from buying up lost and forgotten baggage from hotels and selling what they find within the cases. One fateful evening Charlie and Joey find themselves losing bid after bid when a final case hits the main stage and Joey decides to throw all at this last case. A case that turns out is more than they bargained for. A case that will change their lives forever. What follows is a dark, creepy and ominous series of events that are not only enjoyable but also have you check the dark corners of your house, it’s spooky. ‘Vkhodite, vkhodite’.
Guignard has crafted an awesome and centred setting for the story in 1960’s Detroit and we get a good feeling for the hustle and bustle of the city which is centred around the wheeling and dealing of the collectables trade. I do wish there was a little more detail on this as I kept forgetting that this was 1963 and not present day. May be an additional description on attire/decor here and there would have help with this. Not a major problem and this doesn’t impact the story at all it was just a small personal preference.
This is definitely recommended reading for lovers of the eerie and those that like a little suspense in their reads. I am struggling to liken Last Case at a Baggage Auction to another book as the voice and telling are so original. I’m going to ask you to trust me on this one and believe me when I say its a good read. If you’re a fan of the supernatural you’ll enjoy this book.
Now, let me use that link above to get hold of more of Guignard’s books.