A remote psychiatric hospital in the 1950s is the perfect setting for progressive treatments...and paranormal activity.
Young psychiatrist James Richardson is excited to be hired by the celebrated Dr. Hugh Maitland to work at Wyldehope Hall, a psychiatric hospital in a remote part of Suffolk. Since he has no attachments, Richardson doesn't think that the isolation of the place will bother him, and he's looking forward to learning about Richardson's unique treatment, in which disturbed patients are kept asleep for long periods. But he finds several aspects of the place unsettling, beginning with the air of secrecy surrounding many procedures. The imperious Sister Jenkins runs day-to-day operations with an iron hand. Her polar opposite is Mary Williams, who's loath to ask for help even when she twists an ankle. Richardson passes the time by playing chess with delusional patient Mr. Chapman, who maintains that the nurses move his bed at night, and entering into a covert affair with nurse Jane Turner. One night after sex, he sees what he can only describe as a ghost passing over the bed. Jane laughs it off, but Richardson is spooked. Mary begins to act erratically then disappears. Richardson decides to leave Wyldehope, a choice confirmed by a long meeting with his predecessor, Palmer. But the offer of a promotion and his deepening feelings for Jane cause him to change his mind, an impulsive move he later deeply regrets.
Layering several familiar elements expertly, Tallis (Death and the Maiden, 2012, etc.) creates a deliciously creepy mood of neogothic suspense.