Campbell’s umpteenth dip into darkness (The Last Voice They Hear, 1998, etc.) displays his usual warm hand for British domestic details that help pinch rosy life into the cheeks of his ghouls. Chief ghoul this time out is Hector Woollie, a contractor in Jericho Close who has a taste for bringing peace to young children he feels have been abused by their parents. A pillow over the face is just fine, though a knife across the throat of a noisy kid may be called for, while Hector soothes them by singing a lullaby as their lives snuff out. Hector disposes of the bodies by burying them in the basements of various houses. When young Terrence sees little Harmony Duke's wormy finger in the concrete, however, Hector decides to fake his own death by drowning, then return incognito. (His disguise requires that he pull out all his teeth with pliers, a nice touch.) Divorced Leslie, who runs a record shop, now owns the building where Hector buried Harmony—a place that’s become known throughout Jericho Close as the House of Horror. So Leslie can’t sell, and she and her 13-year-old son, Ian, can't move. Then Ian and his young stepsister, Charlotte, disappear . . . .
Campbell can leave his house, take a walk by swings in a schoolyard, and come back with a novel that writes itself in his sleep—or so it seems.