A small boy drowns in a Pennsylvania pond, enters the ranks of the ghostly and seemingly returns decades later to haunt the family indirectly responsible for his demise.
The following plot disclosure gives nothing away, as it happens in the prologue–Carl Weber, a poor boy dropped off across town at the palatial estate of a wealthy playmate, drowns in a private pond adjacent to the property. The rest of the novel follows Michael Adams–the wealthy playmate in question–who, a few decades later, is well into a robust dental practice. Mike is married to the extra-loyal Donna and is the happy father of seven-year-old Kim, when his fairly wicked mother passes away and leaves him the estate. He soon learns the difficulties of mansion ownership–updating the kitchen, removing the thick, dust-covered drapes and dealing with Kim’s invisible and slightly aggrieved new undead playmate. Lawrence mixes things up with a particularly un-neighborly and meddlesome next-door couple, yet the plot holds few surprises. The author is a step ahead of her peers when evoking the daily routines of rural life, and there’s potential in the material, especially in the forking paths taken by Rich Mike and Poor Carl, but the sense of otherworldly events happening just behind the veil of the visible never takes hold. The Adams family isn’t drawn with many facets and the writing too often falls back on benign clichÃ©s–wherein things disappear â€œwithout a trace” and people are â€œshowered with gifts”–which makes for flavorless writing.
A few good ingredients in an undercooked ghost story.