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Authors: Dennis Wheatley

The Devil Rides Out

BOOK: The Devil Rides Out
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Dennis Wheatley

Edited by Miranda Vaughan Jones


To my old friend Mervyn Baron of whom, in these days, I see far too little but
whose companionship, both in good times and in bad, has been to me a never-failing joy.


Author's Note


The Devil Rides Out

The Incomplete Reunion

The Curious Guests of Mr Simon Aron

The Esoteric Doctrine

The Silent House

Embodied Evil

The Secret Art

De Richleau Plans a Campaign

Rex Van Ryn Opens the Attack

The Countess D'urfé Talks of Many Curious Things

Tanith Proves Stubborn

The Truth Will Always out

The Grim Prophecy

The Defeat of Rex Van Ryn

The Duke de Richleau Takes the Field

The Road to the Sabbat

The Sabbat

Evil Triumphant

The Power of Light

The Ancient Sanctuary

The Four Horsemen

Cardinals Folly

The Satanist

The Pride of Peacocks

The Scepticism of Richard Eaton

The Talisman of Set

Rex Learns of the Undead

Within the Pentacle


Simon Aron Takes a View

Out into the Fog

The Man with the Jagged Ear

The Gateway of the Pit

Death of A Man Unknown from Natural Causes

A Note on the Author

Author's Note

I desire to state that I, personally, have never assisted at, or participated in, any ceremony connected with Magic – Black or White.

The literature of occultism is so immense that any conscientious writer can obtain from it abundant material for the background of a romance such as this.

In the present case I have spared no pains to secure accuracy of detail from existing accounts when describing magical rites or formulas for protection against evil, and these have been verified in conversation with certain persons, sought out for that purpose, who are actual practitioners of the Art.

All the characters and the situations in this book are entirely imaginary but, in the inquiry necessary to writing of it, I found ample evidence that Black Magic is still practised in London, and other cities, at the present day.

Should any of my readers incline to a serious study of the subject, and thus come into contact with a man or a woman of Power, I feel that it is only right to urge them, most strongly, to refrain from being drawn into the practise of the Secret Art in any way. My own observations have led me to an absolute conviction that to do so would bring them into dangers of a very real and concrete nature.

Dennis Wheatley


Dennis Wheatley was my grandfather. He only had one child, my father Anthony, from his first marriage to Nancy Robinson. Nancy was the youngest in a large family of ten Robinson children and she had a wonderful zest for life and a gaiety about her that I much admired as a boy brought up in the dull Seventies. Thinking about it now, I suspect that I was drawn to a young Ginny Hewett, a similarly bubbly character, and now my wife of 27 years, because she resembled Nancy in many ways.

As grandparents, Dennis and Nancy were very different. Nancy's visits would fill the house with laughter and mischievous gossip, while Dennis and his second wife Joan would descend like minor royalty, all children expected to behave. Each held court in their own way but Dennis was the famous one with the famous friends and the famous stories.

There is something of the fantasist in every storyteller, and most novelists writing thrillers see themselves in their heroes. However, only a handful can claim to have been involved in actual daring-do. Dennis saw action both at the Front, in the First World War, and behind a desk in the Second. His involvement informed his writing and his stories, even those based on historical events, held a notable veracity that only the life-experienced novelist can obtain. I think it was this element that added the important plausibility to his writing. This appealed to his legions of readers who were in that middle ground of fiction, not looking for pure fantasy nor dry fact, but something exciting, extraordinary, possible and even probable.

There were three key characters that Dennis created over the years: The Duc de Richleau, Gregory Sallust and Roger Brook. The first de Richleau stories were set in the years between the wars, when Dennis had started writing. Many of the Sallust stories were written in the early days of the Second World War, shortly before Dennis joined the Joint Planning Staff in Whitehall, and Brook was cast in the time of the French Revolution, a period that particularly fascinated him.

He is probably always going to be associated with Black Magic first and foremost, and it's true that he plugged it hard because sales were always good for those books. However, it's important to remember that he only wrote eleven Black Magic novels out of more than sixty bestsellers, and readers were just as keen on his other stories. In fact, invariably when I meet people who ask if there is any connection, they tell me that they read 'all his books'.

Dennis had a full and eventful life, even by the standards of the era he grew up in. He was expelled from Dulwich College and sent to a floating navel run school, HMS Worcester. The conditions on this extraordinary ship were Dickensian. He survived it, and briefly enjoyed London at the pinnacle of the Empire before war was declared and the fun ended. That sort of fun would never be seen again.

He went into business after the First World War, succeeded and failed, and stumbled into writing. It proved to be his calling. Immediate success opened up the opportunity to read and travel, fueling yet more stories and thrilling his growing band of followers.

He had an extraordinary World War II, being one of the first people to be recruited into the select team which dreamed up the deception plans to cover some of the major events of the war such as Operation Torch, Operation Mincemeat and the D-Day landings. Here he became familiar with not only the people at the very top of the war effort, but also a young Commander Ian Fleming, who was later to write the James Bond novels. There are indeed those who have suggested that Gregory Sallust was one of James Bond's precursors.

The aftermath of the war saw Dennis grow in stature and fame. He settled in his beautiful Georgian house in Lymington surrounded by beautiful things. He knew how to live well, perhaps without regard for his health. He hated exercise, smoked, drank and wrote. Today he would have been bullied by wife and children and friends into giving up these habits and changing his lifestyle, but I'm not sure he would have given in. Maybe like me, he would simply find a quiet place.

Dominic Wheatley, 2013

The Devil Rides Out
The Incomplete Reunion

The Duke de Richleau and Rex Van Ryn had gone in to dinner at eight o'clock, but coffee was not served till after ten.

An appetite in keeping with his mighty frame had enabled Van Ryn to do ample justice to each well-chosen course and, as was his custom each time the young American arrived in England, the Duke had produced his finest wines for this, their reunion dinner at his flat.

A casual observer might well have considered it a strange friendship, but despite their difference in age and race, appearance and tradition, a real devotion existed between the two.

Some few years earlier Rex's foolhardiness had landed him in a Soviet prison, and the elderly French exile had put aside his peaceful existence as art connoisseur and dilettante to search for him in Russia. Together they had learned the dangerous secret of ‘The Forbidden Territory' and travelled many thousand verts pursued by the merciless agents of the Ogpu.

There had been others too in that strange adventure; young Richard Eaton, and the little Princess Marie Lou whom he had brought out of Russia as his bride; but as Rex accepted a long Hoyo de Monterrey from the cedar cabinet, which the Duke's man presented to him, his thoughts were not of the Eatons, living now so happily with their little daughter Fleur in their lovely country home. He was thinking of that third companion whose subtle brain and shy, nervous courage had proved so great an aid when they were hunted like hares through the length and breadth of Russia, the frail, narrow-shouldered Englishman, Simon Aron.

‘What could possibly have kept Simon from being with them tonight?' Rex was wondering. He had never failed before to make these reunion dinners, and why had the Duke brushed aside his inquiries about him in such an offhand manner? There was something odd behind De Richleau's reticence, and Rex had a feeling that for all his host's easy charm and bland, witty conversation something had gone seriously wrong.

He slowly revolved some of the Duke's wonderful old brandy in a bowl-shaped glass, while he watched the servant preparing to leave the room. Then, as the door closed, he set it down and addressed De Richleau almost abruptly.

‘Well, I'm thinking it's about time for you to spill the beans.'

The Duke inhaled the first cloud of fragrant smoke from another of those long Hoyos and answered guardedly. ‘Had you not better tell me, Rex, to what particular beans you refer?'

‘Simon of course! For years now the three of us have dined together on my first night, each time I've come across, and you were too mighty casual to be natural when I asked about him before dinner. Why isn't he here?'

‘Why, indeed, my friend?' the Duke repeated, running the tips of his fingers down his lean, handsome face. ‘I asked him, and told him that your
ship docked this morning, but he declined to honour us tonight.'

‘Is he ill then?'

‘No, as far as I know he's perfectly well. At all events he was at his office today.'

‘He must have had a date then that he couldn't scrap, or some mighty urgent work. Nothing less could induce him to let us down on one of these occasions. They've become, well, in a way, almost sacred to our friendship.'

‘On the contrary he is at home alone tonight. He made his apologies of course, something about resting for a Bridge Tournament that starts …'

BOOK: The Devil Rides Out
7.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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