I've thoroughly enjoyed many of Sarah Rayne's previous books, psychological thrillers with a touch of the supernatural and a smidgen of gothic which always hits the spot with me! Property of A Lady appears to be the first in new series of "ghost books" featuring Nell West and Michael Flint. The second in the series, The Sin Eater, is due for release in 2012.
Michael Flint, an Oxford Don, is asked to keep an eye on renovations of an old Shropshire house inherited by his American friends. He soon realises that Charect House is not quite the rural idyll his friends are expecting; from the moment he crosses the threshold, the aura of evil is palpable and Rayne cranks up the tension beautifully, drawing in the reader. Nell West, a local antique dealer, soon finds herself joining forces with Michael to discover the truth about Charect House. Why are Nell's daughter and Michael's American god-daughter having the same nightmares about the Dead Man's Knock and a man with pits for eyes? What happened to the previous occupants of the house? What happened to the psychic investigator who visited the house? All these questions are answered in the end but not before the author has stepped up the fear factor, leaving you (well, me in this case..) too scared to turn off the bedside lamp.
Once again Sarah Rayne has succeeded in weaving a complex, compelling story with lots of twists and turns. She's also excellent at creating atmospheric locations and Charect House is a truly eerie setting. It's a very readable, riveting book which I read in one sitting, into the wee small hours, as I just had to find out what happened next. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series which deals with the ancient practice of sin-eating, a topic which intrigues me, and there may be a rural Irish setting too - roll on publication date in 2012!