A New York City transplant moves into a coastal Maine home with a dark past in this debut mystery.
Sabrina “Bri” Hall was a project manager for Restart, a real estate developer in New York City. She was engaged to her project partner, Ryan Grady, but when she discovered that he’d cheated on her with her maid of honor, she cut her ties, vacationed in Maine to try to cure her blues, and impulsively bought a home on Jackel’s Head Point, which was rumored to have a haunted past. But when she begins to renovate the home, she needs some assistance. She meets handyman Matt, a skilled ex-farm boy from Iowa who now lives on the sea in his boat, the Audrey Natalia. As their relationship grows and their business partnership blossoms into a romance, Bri begins having nightmares; in them, she assumes the perspective of a previous inhabitant of the house, and their events provide insight into the murder-suicide that occurred there years ago. The history of the previous occupants unfolds not only in Bri’s nightmares but also in a journal that she discovers, and its insidious narrative of asylums, shipwrecks, plantations, and soul-snatching leads Bri to realize the house’s haunting never ceased. The book’s long prelude, regarding Ryan and his affair, could have been cut altogether from the narrative, but the premise of the haunted coastal home with a creepy lighthouse couldn’t make for better mystery fodder. Bri, Matt, and the ghostly presences that continue to inhabit the home are all fully rounded characters with engaging scenes. Labbee expertly crafts the venomous villain of Jackel’s Head Point while also managing to transport the reader into a story involving slave ships and the Caribbean, all without skipping a beat. However, the ending falls short of answering all of the many questions that come up in the last 50 pages or so.
A spooky, suspenseful supernatural thriller.