Huh? The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen - with spoilers

I just read it, and, while I enjoyed it, I was left confused by the ending.

Anybody else know this book?

It’s said to be Lovecraftian, which I think is a stretch: more Stevensonian or even Conan Doylesque. (Ick. No more adjectives.) There’s eerie stuff, but nothing on Lovecraft’s scale. Little sprites and feys, but no great eldritch gods from beyond space.

The novel (?) is segmented, a series of accounts, often devolving into the third or even fourth person. The accounts are – apparently – all fraudulent, as the three impostors of the title tell whopping big lies to the two protagonists. The whole book seems to be a conspiracy to feed these two suckers the biggest possible “fish stories.”

Right up till the very end… Where somebody turns up dead. Okay, huh? Where did that come from? Why? I can see the joy in hoaxing somebody, to see how much they’ll swallow. But the death at the end? How does that fit in?

And why? If they wanted to kill the guy, then just kill him. What’s the purpose of all the role-playing?

First Chesterton (The Napoleon of Notting Hill) and now this: am I just not cut out for early 20th century stylistic fiction?

It’s pretty funny. Grim, but affable.

Stevenson, yes ( apart from RLS not doing faerie stuff ), Lovecraft, no, except they occupy the same pantheon of terror ( not horror ) writers such as Dunsany; Doyle, not at all. And he’s getting near to Flann O’Brien. And within nodding distance of Cabell.

Apart from the Welchness of it all, one may consider it the '90s obverse of Gaslight fiction; murky shadows, but in the bright sunlight rather than midnight in the dingy alley. Robert Hitchens kind of encompassed both, as did Thomas Burke.
As for the purpose of role-playing, that is the game itself.

And for the curious, Machen rhymes with Bracken, just as Cabell rhymes with rabble.

All the way to…murder? (Suicide?)

Was the victim – the guy with the glasses that everybody seemed to be hunting – one of the three imposters himself? Did he go to his own death voluntarily as a supreme dedication to immersive role-playing? Or was he a sucker that the three impostors were hunting and making up absurd stories about?

Completely lost here… I thought I was following it, right up to the very end. Then, Huh, Wha?