Kirkus Star


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Sneaky, very sneaky. As history teacher David--an Englishman who's been living in Manhattan--begins his story, it seems that we're in for a neatly tugging mystery. David's twin brother Colin, recently married, has stopped corresponding, so David flies home--only to find that his father still hates him, both Colin and wife Helen are dead, and their charming, historic Gerrard Hill Cottage home now belongs to David. He moves in, determined to uncover the truth of those deaths: Helen died first (a roof-jump or push); was Colin's subsequent auto death someone's revenge for Helen? But the mystery swirls into something more gothical when, after David's girlfriend Shelagh comes to stay, the appealingly bovine, devoted part-time housekeeper seems to be responsible for various hideous happenings: glass shards in Shelagh's ice cream, razor-blades in her face cream, her near-fatal horse accident, and the words ""SEND HER AWAY"" etched in the garden soil. And, sneakiest move of all, just when we're resigned to the housekeeper's guilt (she's so lovably pathetic), Taylor quietly shifts everything into ghost gear: the real culprit is Helen's ghost, David thinks, as he hears her laughing (""not the laughter I had heard in those movie blood-curdlers"") and makes love to her in an erotic blur. He soon learns, however, that the rich history of the cottage offers far more likely candidates for ghostdom, and a harrowingly chaotic exorcism finale proves just how strong a love-struck ghost can be. A lot of readers would turn right off if they saw this sort of spirit-arama coming; but Taylor so thoroughly, literately warms you to his level-headed characters that you can't bear to give them up, even if it means suspending your usual disbelief. Thus--a slow-burning, invisibly seductive ghost story--Taylor-made for those who wouldn't go anywhere near The Exorcist.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's