In 1938, Raymond Chandler published a short detective story called “The King in Yellow.” It takes its name from the victim, a musician named King Leopardi. When the hotel dick, Steve Grayce, finds the man shot to death in his bed, clothed in yellow silk pajamas, he remarks, “The King in Yellow. I read a book with that title once.”
When one thinks of the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, especially one who is already familiar with his works, downtown Manhattan isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Generally the 20th Century’s master of the weird tale causes people to think of long dead underwater cities, reeking chthonic tunnels and dark clusters of ancient forests. But, if you’re in the city, and are an intrepid investigator, you’ll have head down to Manhattan’s East Village. There you’ll mount the cracked and pitted stone stairs outside of 85 East 4th Street. Once inside you’ll sidle up to a ticket-booth, a glass partition
The name Harry Houdini is synonymous with magic, escape and deception. Indeed, they were some of the Master Mystifier’s greatest passions but he did have others. As we approach the anniversary of Houdini’s untimely death, I want to look back at another of his passions, specifically his love of literature and how it factored into his life and death.