The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley

Rated 4.33/5 based on 3 reviews
A Lovecraftian style tale of the horrors that surround the simple draining of a park pond and the modern day research that leads back to the Civil War and the discovery of an undead zone. More

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Words: 9,720
Language: English
ISBN: 9780983776307
About Randy Attwood

I grew up on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, where my father was its dentist. That was interesting. I went to The University of Kansas during the tumultuous 1960s. That was interesting, too. For the first half of my adult career I worked in newspaper journalism. You couldn't call that boring. I won my share of honors, twice winning the award for investigative reporting from the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU. For the second half of my career I was Director of University Relations at The University of Kansas Medical Center. There were some boring times, but the exciting episodes made up for it. I retired at the end of 2010 from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, where I was its media relations officer. You see, my degree from KU was not in journalism, but in art history. Unfortunately, my father died when I was 21 so I couldn't make him eat his words about that art history degree not being worth anything. I've had stints living in Italy and in Japan.

During all this time I've been putting words on paper, creating fiction. My works don't fit into neat genres, unless that rather new genre "quirky" applies. And each work is quirky in its own way. What that means for me is that in each work is evidence of a deep search within myself. Sometimes it's scary what you find in there.

I'm semi-retired now in Kansas City, keeping busy with a lot of things, among them promoting my fiction and creating new works. That search within yourself never ends.

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Review by: Scott Skipper on Feb. 14, 2013 :
At the site of a Civil War battle that had a miraculous outcome, survivor, James Kirkland Pilley, built a house. When the house burned the basement was intentionally flooded and the grounds dedicated as a park. Nothing strange in that, is there? Or is there?

Years later the Garden Society donates funds to renovate the park, especially to dredge the pond which has become little more than a swamp. That's when a hapless code enforcer learns the ghastly truth of what lies beneath the duckweed and muddy water of Pilley Pond.

This delightfully gothic little tale by rights should be read on a dark and stormy night. It's brisk, folksy style complements the eerie story it tells. Randy Attwood has cleverly conceived and executed his supernatural tale. I haven't enjoyed a story of this genre so much since I last read Poe.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Mike Dominic on Sep. 08, 2011 :
Definitely an entertaining read. The story has strong echoes of Lovecraft's "Herbert West, Reanimator", but definitely has its own identity as well. The central idea is very strong and creates some great, if graphic, visuals for the reader.
To be a little critical, some of the diction and vocabulary in the early part of the story had me wondering if it was intended as a somewhat humorous pastiche, but the events of the story soon proved otherwise. Also, some of the plot elements seemed a bit contrived, but not to the point of incredulity.
Overall, a good story, and strong enough to make me want more.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)

Review by: Katy Sozaeva on Sep. 03, 2011 :
Randy Attwood said that he used the Cthulu Mythos as an inspiration for this chilling story; I can definitely see the influence. As the story progresses, and people grow mad and/or kill themselves and others, we learn more about the reason, and the sense of dread grows, as does the sense of unreality. It all starts when a man who has a home at the edge of a park decides that the old, swampy pond needs to be cleaned out and a new, more pristine lily pond made in its place. But as the water is removed from the area, strange happens commence. What is the source of the strangeness, the sense of unease, and the odd behavior of those who live in the area?

While this is short – a novella at most – a lot of story is crammed into it. I highly recommend it for those who are fans of the eerie and strange.
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)

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