Ghosts and serial killers in 1915 San Francisco, Moyer’s debut.
From a young age, Delia Martin could see and interact with ghosts. After her parents were killed in the 1906 earthquake, family friend Esther Larkin took her in. Later, the persistent ghosts drove Delia to New York. She returns in 1915, ready, she thinks, to confront the ghosts and celebrate the wedding of her closest friend, Sadie, Esther’s daughter, and visit a now terminally ill Esther. But the ghosts haven’t gone away; one determined woman, whom Delia calls Shadow, needs Delia to do—something. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Sadie’s beau, Sgt. Jack Fitzgerald of the SFPD, and his superior, Lt. Gabe Ryan, are investigating a serial killer. Thirty years ago, Gabe’s father, Matthew, tried and failed to catch what appears to have been the same killer. Shadow, it seems, was one of the killer’s victims. The crimes are characterized by an insensate sadism, a taunting of the police—first Matthew, now Gabe—and an obsession with ancient Egyptian funeral rites, practices and beliefs. Poor Delia, however, is almost overwhelmed with the sheer number and power of the ghosts she perceives, so she turns for help to psychic Isadora Bobet, who not only senses ghosts, but knows how to deal with them. But can Dora teach Delia what she needs to know before the killer catches up with all of them?
The narrative is impeccably constructed and presented, almost to the point where it seems like it’s on rails, though the characters are life-sized and blessedly free of any compulsion to do stupid things in order to further the plot. What’s missing are sparks of originality to make it stand out.