THE NIGHT STALKER was a 1972 telefilm written by Richard Matheson from an, at the time, unpublished novel by Jeff Rice titled The Kolchak Papers. The novel debuted about the same time as the movie, which for a time, and may still be for all I know, the highest rated TV movie of all time. That caused a sequel, THE NIGHT STRANGLER, in 1973 and eventually led to the series. Rice did the novelization of that one.
The TV series lasted only one season(not sure about the reasons here as it seemed to be a hit) where Darren McGavin, in his straw boater, seersucker suit, and tennis shoes discovered and defeated a succession of monsters of all types. Naturally no one ever believed him and relegated him to “National Enquirer” status.
The show, and McGavin’s character went on to cult status, survived in the fans’ minds for years. Then in 1994, GRAVE SECRETS by Mark Dawidziak appeared, supposedly the first of a new series(Grand Inquisitor was announced in the back as coming soon, but never made it). Dawidziak had already penned NIGHTSTALKING: A TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY KOLCHAK COMPANION and the earlier THE COLUMBO PHILE: A CASEBOOK.
That’s how things stood until Moonstone books started doing Kolchak comics and graphic novels(I have none of those). They eventually did a couple of anthologies of short stories, recruiting some of the best writers working to contribute.
Some of the authors represented here include Max Allan Collins, Peter David, James Reasoner, Mark Dawidziak, Stuart Kaminsky, Mike W. Barr, Richard Dean Starr, and others we might be familiar with. I’m working from memory here as I can’t lay my hands on the book(packed away somewhere in the house). It was successful and inspired a second set of tales of our favorite monster hunter.
Some of the writers featured here include P. N. Elrod(who has her own vampire novels), Starr again, Christopher Golden, and Elaine Bergstrom. Once again working from memory.
I kept wondering during that time whether they might do an original novel or two as well as the short stories and graphic novels. I know they teamed, somehow, Kolchak and Sherlock Holmes in a graphic series and I heard rumors of a novel version. If it’s appeared I missed that one. But finally, a new novel by C’ J. Henderson, A BLACK & EVIL TRUTH, showed up.
Moonstone books finally released Jeff Rice’s two novels in an omnibus volume,THE KOLCHAK PAPERS,which leads me to wonder if the previously mentioned “forthcoming” novel GRAND INQUISITOR was ever written. If so, One might like to see that one. Maybe an omnibus with GRAVE SECRETS?
I’d certainly be interested in more collections of stories or novels. Always had a soft spot for old Carl. Darren McGavin created one of those spot-on characters that would be hard for anyone else to pull off(witness that abominable, thankfully short-lived update).