Occult Detective Countdown 18/20: Robert E. Howard’s Kirowan, Conrad, & O’Donnell / #40DaysofHalloween

Let me state this once more, with feeling, Robert E. Howard is my favorite author, bar none. Of course, it’s his Conan stories that are first in my heart, but his occult detectives are nipping at the Cimmerian’s heels, to be sure.

Edging ahead of Steve Harrison are three occult adventurers — John Kirowan, John Conrad, and John O’Donnell — whom find themselves in Howard’s Lovecraft Mythos yarns, and some of my favorite horror stories ever penned.

And yes, it is not lost on me that these three friends are all named John, though I don’t find it all that peculiar. Growing up, I often found myself in the company of two of my closest friends — Robert Brent Smith and Robert Dennison.

But I digress.

Kirowan was a reluctant occultist, shying away from the vast knowledge he had earned at a terrible price. Conrad was the more eager aspirant, and who tended draw Kirowan into his misadventures, while O’Donnell was closer akin to Conrad.

Of course, Howard scholars hotly debate these figures, sometimes declaring them different individuals, but I prefer to ere on the side of them all being part of a collective universe, with continuity errors being just that.

These tales have long fascinated me, as have the behind the scenes drama. Regardless of intent, I see these three companions as the very epitome of occult detectives and choose to accept them as being bound together as a cohesive series.

Stories include The Haunter of the Ring, The Children of the Night, The Dwellers Under the Tombs, and several others.

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