‘Gilded Needles’ Is Back

London

Gilded

Michael McDowell frequently returned to the idea of matriarchal, dynastic revenge in his books, and his wonderfully chatty style made it feel as if he was imparting a terrible piece of gossip while describing all manner of disturbing events. ‘Gilded Needles’ is a vivid historical tintype of old New York that forms the backdrop to a nightmarish cascade of almost Jacobean retribution, and it’s just about to be rereleased by Valancourt Books with a new foreword by me and a cover by the ever-excellent Mike Mignola.

The novel concerns two families, the aristocratic Stallworths and the lowly Shankses, one side taking revenge against the other. The slow build-up, shifting from Gramercy Park elegance to pawnshops, brothels, opium dens and beer houses, is designed to provide immense satisfaction when it delivers the goods. The drug-dipped needles of the title come into play as both families suffer losses, proving that revenge is a dish that satiates no-one…