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3.9 out of 5 stars26
3.9 out of 5 stars
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and this was years and years ago so re-reading it was a pleasure as I had forgotten nearly all of the story.

The story is mainly about a pair of twins who have a strong psychic link. Otto is the 'good' twin and Lothar has gone over to the Russians and the Neo-Nazis. What he is planning to do is unthinkable.

Teddy Morden who was working undercover for CB Colonel Verney has been found ritually crucified upside down. This of course suggests Black Magic. One day, his Widow, Mary comes to see CB with the intention of carrying on where her deceased husband left off. CB tries to dissuade her but she is adamant. All he can tell her to do is to change her appearance drastically and create a new persona for herself.

Years ago back in Ireland with only herself and her Brother to support she has to turn to prostitution to get him out of trouble. It is whilst she is doing this awful job she means Barney or as he is properly known Lord Larne. When they meet at Mrs. Wardeel's (the meeting place for those interested in the psychic world), she recognises Barney immediately and sets out to pay him back for the distress he caused her years ago. Barney of course does not recognise her. All he sees is a dark haired beauty.

At one of the meetings at Mrs. Wardeel's, Mary is introduced to an Indian called Ratnadatta. He wants her to join his Coven of Devil worshippers. Reluctantly she agrees although what she sees there turns her stomach. Barney is also worried that she will be drawn into becoming a Satanist so tries to dissuade her from meeting up with Ratnadatta again.

The ending is nail biting to say the least and although there was a fair bit of waffle and a lot of typos in this book, to me, it still remains one of Wheatley's best.

There is one thing however that Wheatley got wrong. Pan is not allied to evil. He is a nature Deity.......see the chapter entitled 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' in the Wind in the Willows.
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2014
This is my least favourite of Wheatley's black magic novels. It feels long-winded and plodding and the ending is a ridiculous deus ex machina which makes you go, 'Really?!'
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2005
Well, this is yet another black magic story from the late great Mr Wheatley. I wouldnt say that this is up there alongside The Devil Rides Out, Strange Conflict or The Irish Witch, but it is certainly better than Gateway to Hell. It is one of those that sits outside of his main three characters, yet it features some stronger character development than many of his regular novels - particularly with the lead female character, and the idea of the twins is well written. Minor criticism is the cheesy "plan to take over the world" idea from the bad guy, but if you've enjoyed his contemporary novels, then you'll love this volume.
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on 22 June 2016
I'm quite conflicted with this book. There's a lot to like; it's fast paced, well-plotted in a very predictable way, with engaging characters (some to love, some to loathe). But it hasn't aged well. Written at the heart of the Cold War, Wheatley's political prejudices come through to the detriment of the story. His inherent sexism also comes powerfully to the fore in ways that a modern reader can't dismiss. It's still too close in history to be history, and the views are ones still espoused by many men's rights activists. It mars what might otherwise be a true Ripping Yarn, timeless and appealing after many generations have passed.
The most powerful redeeming feature of the entire book has to be the heroine Mary, who does not sit around weeping and wailing but has the guts and the pragmatism to get on and do something to avenge her husband.
The most powerfully damning feature (see what I did there?) is the dreadful, contrived and annoying ending.
For those a bit fearful of it, the occult content is not really very scary or convincing either; I'd suggest The Haunting of Toby Jugg if you want something scary. Times have moved on and there is more in films, TV and books on the subject than there was fifty years ago when I think some of the content of this book may have been genuinely shocking.
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on 14 May 2016
a pacey enough read ,though wheatleys ludicrous social attitudes,and warped political absurdities are never far from the surface,his "heroes" are so excrutiatingly nauseating,that you find yourself hoping the "villians" triumph,his evident prejudices unfortunately sour what could have been a good read.though some of the content could prove quite amusing and hilarious to the educated and progressive mind.
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on 15 November 2012
Mary, a woman with a murky past is hired by a secret government department to go undercover at a local devil worshipping ring responsible for the death of her husband.

Crazy is one word that comes to mind when describing this book. The heroine is surprisingly sympathetic. Wheatley writes with such earnestness that this is far more entertaining than it probably should be. Mary is expected as part of her cover, to sleep with people, but it's alright as she used to be a prostitute. That's ok too, as she was desperate for money at the time. So Mary is a nice girl, really. Gender attitudes are way back in the ark but I suppose Wheatley deserves some credit for writing a female character who does more than just sit at home keeping the house tidy. Even if the alternative for Mary is to become a prostitute for the Government.

An overlong book which moves from London to the Swiss alps and a James Bond lite finale. Not a good book but perfect if you want to read something silly.
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on 19 September 2014
A bit disappointing after The Devil Rides Out and To the Devil a Daughter. Much more an anti Left Wing rant!
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on 5 May 2004
My expectations of this novel were high because it is regarded as a classic of occult and horror fiction. The story begins with the murder of a member of Britain’s security services, the circumstances of which seem to suggest a ritualistic killing. The agent had been investigating Communist activity within the trade union movement when he was killed, but this seems even more sinister than a Cold War slaying. Before his death he had admitted to his wife – Mary Morden - that he was involved in the fringes of the occult and she becomes determined to avenge his death by infiltrating the Satanic underworld. The security services have sent a second agent into the fray, but he and Mary Morden share a hedonistic past. To complicate matters neither knows the other is investigating the occult as they are both being played-off against each other by Colonel Verney – an old-school British secret agent.
I found the novel to have dated rather badly and it seems trapped in a 1950s time-warp of lemon tea and stiff upper lips. For example, Mary Morden’s decision to wear tight jeans makes her appear “sluttish” in Colonel Verney’s opinon. Much is made of Dennis Wheatley’s understanding of Satanism but the information in this novel is about as powerful and dangerous as the information on the back of a cereal box. Lord Maitreya, Madame Blavatsky and Koot Hoomi get a mention but since when were they regarded as Satanists? It all seems pretty tame. I much prefer ‘The Three Imposters’ by Arthur Machen which is a lot scarier and has dated better despite being far older.
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on 31 August 2014
There are too many misspelt words in this KIndle edition of the book. It's so annoying, row instead of now, hair-haired in stead of fair-haired etc. Needs proof reading and re-issuing.
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on 29 July 2013
well it came on time and is in perfect condition but i did think it was some sort of satanic bible just wanted to learn some dark stuff i have flicked a thew pages , it seems to be a story i am going to read it to see if i can get in to it but as i said if u r looking for some sort of satanic bible its not it , i think
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