Second-novelist Moloney (A Dry Spell, 1997) offers a rather-too-leisurely account of a haunted house and its successive families.
Having recently become a widow, Glenn Darnley returns to work as a realtor and takes on 362 Belisle, a new listing that’s suddenly come on the market. Newly renovated, the house is a roomy old Victorian in a great part of town—perfect for young families. There’s only one problem: It’s haunted. Glenn doesn’t dwell on that point, however, and she soon manages to sell it to Dan and Rebecca Mason, a young couple settling into their careers and looking for a place to nest. They dismiss—as mice—the weird noises coming from the attic, but the old woman they see wandering the stairs gives them something of a fright. Rebecca is stubborn, though, and refuses to move—until Dan is murdered by an unknown hand. She lets Glenn sell the place (at a decent profit) to Barbara Perkins, an unhappy divorcée with an eight-year-old son. Barbara and the boy soon begin to enjoy visits from a strange young girl who appears out of nowhere—and vanishes just as quickly. The two like her company so much that they both vanish, too. Glenn takes the listing once more and sells it to a drunken writer named Richie Bramley. Richie is a kind of superannuated frat boy, not the sort to give in too easily to simple worry, much less to panic and dread. He, too, though, begins to feel a tad uncomfortable when nooses appear, hanging from the ceiling beams. Instead of putting the house on the market again, however, Glenn decides to move into it herself. She’s spent so much time in the place, after all, that it feels like her own home—and, besides, she senses that the house is “full of life.”
Well conceived, and great stylistically—but too long and shapeless to work, whether as satire, thriller, or horror story.