Fans await the return of a mythic rock star who vanished in 1975.
Martin Mear was the writer and lead singer for the Ghost Legion, a band equal to the Beatles and the Stones. When Ruthie Gillespie is offered a job writing a 20,000-word essay to accompany a new release of the Legion’s six albums, she’s interested not just for the large fee, but to help get over a ruined love affair and her unsettling encounters with an ancient, sinister cult she knows as the Jericho Society. All the Legion members are dead, but Carter Melville, who’s in charge of the project, arranges for Ruthie to meet the most important people in Martin’s life. Her first meeting with Frederica Daunt, a medium who claims to be in touch with Martin and whose father, Sebastian, did the cover art for Martin’s first album, is hair-raising. Her second interview is with Martin’s girlfriend, famous groupie Paula Tort, who now heads a fashion empire. Terry Maloney, a roadie for the band who was close with Martin, is now Sir Terence, chairman of a merchant bank. Last is Martin’s daughter, April Mear, conceived in the hippie commune where Martin learned to play guitar and came up with the idea for his first blockbuster album, “King Lud.” The charismatic and talented Martin was into black magic, and his last three untitled albums are said to contain mystic clues. Ruthie’s visit to the London apartment of Martin’s uncle Max Askew, who worked for the firm of Martens and Degree, a cover for the Jericho Society, is disturbing, and when the real estate agent is found dead in the haunted apartment, she’s certain it was murder. The friend she’s staying with and a man she’s dating, both of whom have had bad experiences with Jericho, do all they can to help her. Every terrifying experience she has makes her more determined to find the truth. Is Martin Mear still alive?
Cottam (The Memory of Trees, 2013, etc.) is adept at creating an atmosphere so disquieting that a sliver of ice lodges in your brain and remains until the final twist.