I just finished "The Piper" by Lynn Hightower, which simply blew me away. I've known Hightower as a Shamus-Award-winning mystery writer, so I didn't look into what I was buying at all. I started the Audible book, and was quickly introduced to Olivia James, a pragmatic Southern woman living in Los Angeles. She receives a strange phone call from her brother who assures her everything is all right, that he "has paid the piper." The thing is, her brother has been dead for nine weeks.
I don't buy scary horror stories like this or those by Stephen King. Truth is, I get scared. When I was a kid, I saw a movie called "Thirteen Ghosts," and it haunted me for weeks. Best leave that stuff alone.
Still, I felt compelled to go on with "The Piper." Olivia has lost her job, gone through a divorce, and is about to move back to her childhood home in Tennessee with her eight-year-old daughter. Olivia has inherited the house from her brother.
For me, alarms immediately sounded. Don't go into that house where your brother died! Olivia, though, is a Southern steel magnolia, an agnostic of the paranormal. There has to be logical reasons behind the weird stuff that starts happening.
I listened in the car, as I walked the dogs, as I worked out, and even as I lay in the dark in bed just when I really shouldn't be listening. I had to find out what happened. The reader, Xe Sands, voices each character, male and female, masterfully. The experience is akin to a listening to a great story around a campfire. Things in the story get worse and worse, yet you have to know what happens next. There isn't a wasted sentence. Olivia James is a strong character in an overwhelming situation.
The story goes to amazing places--and it is truly frightening. I don't think I can read another like this for a while. Yet I'm deeply satisfied. Now my only worry is can I find another audio book as great as this one?