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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "All a poet can do today is warn..."
The retired rock star, Martin Stride, lives a blissful happy family life with his beautiful wife and children on their sprawling rural estate. On the very edge of their grounds stands the waiting room, an old run down building...all that remains of Shale Point Station a reminder of a long since vanished railway line that runs thought the property.

Everything is...
Published on 15 July 2011 by Ruby

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Waiting Room
On the estate of a retired rock star, Martin Stride, stands a lonely waiting room, relict of the abandoned railway which once carried troops to and from the front in the Great War, and patients for a lunatic asylum which stood nearby. The new owner's children have reported ghostly happenings in this sinister building. So Stride calls in media ghost hunter Julian Creed to...
Published 17 months ago by Carroty Nell


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "All a poet can do today is warn...", 15 July 2011
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
The retired rock star, Martin Stride, lives a blissful happy family life with his beautiful wife and children on their sprawling rural estate. On the very edge of their grounds stands the waiting room, an old run down building...all that remains of Shale Point Station a reminder of a long since vanished railway line that runs thought the property.

Everything is perfect ...until the sounds and smells of a steam train and the refrain of men singing a WW 1 song drift through the night followed by the sightings of a malevolent figure near the waiting room begin to terrify the family.

The family turn to the famous TV psychic investigator Adam Creed for help and he agrees to investigate the waiting room.

What they don't know is that Adam Creed is a fraud and a charlatan and what Creed doesn't know is that his first night spent in the waiting room will change his life for ever.

Creed calls in his hard working researcher, and long suffering ex girlfriend Elena Coyle for her help in unravelling the mystery. As Creed and Elena dig deeper into the history of the waiting room, they are drawn into a terrible story from the past that has its origins in the slaughter on the fields of France during WW1 and now threatens the present.

This genuinely creepy story is heavy on atmosphere especially in the scenes that take place out of doors where the threat and dread are somehow amplified by the idyllic setting of the sprawling country estate. Being in the waiting room itself is a unsettling, claustrophobic almost dreamy experience both for the characters and the reader.

"There is something intrinsically sinister about old waiting rooms. They are repositories of hopes and fears and anxieties with nowhere to go because their owners have moved on. The old ones tend to have a peculiar atmosphere of transience and listlessness."

Over all this hangs the poem, `A Strange Meeting' by Wilfred Owen, which appears in book. The preface to the poem contains the words... "All a poet can do today is warn..."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, but..., 16 July 2010
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Hardcover)
I have to agree with the first review, particularly about the dialogue which seems contrived a little. However, this being the fourth Cottam novel I have read (see my review on The Dark Echo), I must say that the positives easily outweigh any negatives. What the writer does best is create a sense of true horror at the sense of evil and malign menace that seems to emerge from both the waiting room and the ghost of the boy soldier who haunts it; he leads us back to the senseless carnage and ensuing madness of the Great War and its losses. Evil can come out of the folly of past actions, it seems. Not as good as Dark Echo but it's up there with that class of writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Waiting Room, 18 Jun 2013
By 
Carroty Nell "Nell" (Alaska, USA (summer) Manchester, England (winter)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
On the estate of a retired rock star, Martin Stride, stands a lonely waiting room, relict of the abandoned railway which once carried troops to and from the front in the Great War, and patients for a lunatic asylum which stood nearby. The new owner's children have reported ghostly happenings in this sinister building. So Stride calls in media ghost hunter Julian Creed to investigate, quite unknowing that Creed is a fraud and has never seen a real ghost!

The concept and plot is fine, bold and well-executed. But as other reviewers have commented, it is the quality of the writing which lets the book down. Cottam is not great at creating voices, eerie atmosphere or character. While the reader finds the unraveling revelations of the ghastly deeds which took place a century ago fascinating, he has no interest in the characters because Cottam has failed to bring them alive.

A disappointing book on the whole, though by no means a bad one.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bold idea, decent read, 2 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
A fake ghost-hunter, Creed, finds himself up against a real haunting. So far, so unoriginal but still a good basis for a ghost story. But then the ghost turns out to be rather more complex than that. This is the kind of story that really draws me. Without spoilering, I can say that FG Cottam dares to take on one of the more popular 'monsters' of the horror genre and come up with his own take on it, and for the most part, it works.

There are some genuine scares here and a fine pace, but I have some reservations.

1. The characterisations are poor. All the characters talk in the same rather formal manner, even a working-class ex-pop star. FG Cottam has so much going for him as a writer, it's a shame he has a dead ear for dialogue. Also, his habit of 'telling' rather than 'showing' the feelings of his characters mean we as readers feel one removed from them. When two of them suddenly declare their love for each other, it feels like a bolt from nowhere. Cottam's problem with creating characters is amply demonstrated in Creed's musing that he has never come across a more 'vain, pompous and irresolute' person than Bruno Absalom - well, that is not how BA comes across in Cottam's creation of him, I'm afraid. Stride's wife is particularly thin as a character. She seems to be there simply to be beautiful and report problems with the kids.

Also, what is with the obsession with everyone's looks? The four main (living) characters seem to be forever commenting on, brooding on or noting how terribly good-looking each of the others is. As it's of no consequence to the story, it's simply annoying.

2. Artistic license is stretched rather too much. I don't believe for a moment that Stride, the owner of the waiting-room, having been left a mysterious package by the former owner, would not have torn into it the minute strange things started happening there. He doesn't even open it once he's called in the ghost-hunter, Creed. Even with the most cursory natural curiosity, he'd have opened it at once, let's face it. Same goes for Elena and her documents. She reads some, then leaves some for later, then reads a bit more. Come on, when the contents are that important? You'd read them all in one sitting if you had to stay up all night. But the author needs to drip-feed us to keep the story going. Why didn't he just have her discover the documents paper by paper, instead of all at once?

And exorcisms are not performed at the drop of a hat, on a civilian's request alone. There are certain procedures the Church has to go through to determine that one is warranted, and it's a very tough call. The priest himself would have to convince his superiors and get permission. You don't just summon a priest as you would a pest-control officer, not even if you're an ex-rock star.

3. Some of the writing reads more like reporting than story-telling.

4. Some of the grammar is off. Throughout the book Cottam uses a curious double-negative that I'm surprised an editor didn't spot and expunge. He writes, for example, 'She had no idea, he didn't suppose,' and 'they would not want to stay on the island, he didn't think'. Very odd.

That said, I found it an enjoyable story and an original one in parts. I will seek out more books by this author and hope he sharpens his dialogue and character-building skills.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real page-turner, 4 Jan 2012
By 
Insomniac Cat "HS" (East Anglia, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Waiting Room (Kindle Edition)
This ghost story was what I think of as the great, old fashioned type, but with a twist.
By 'old fashioned' I mean it didn't rely on gore and horror, but instead is filled with the feeling of dread and genuine 'haunting'.
The 'twist' I mentioned refers to an unusual idea about what ghosts actually are and why some people see them. In addition, the main 'spectre' involved in this haunting turns out not to be simply a ghost at all but something much worse.

I love history and visiting old, historical places. I don't personally believe in ghosts but I do notice that some old places have a certain atmosphere about them, something about so many people and so many events having passed through them. This idea of place is central to this story, the place being an old waiting room. The rails have all been removed, the platform is overgrown, so why does the waiting room appear to be so perfectly preserved? Why are the WW1 recruitment posters still up inside? Previous owners of the land give vague warnings over having witnessed something not quite right there, but why are the ghostly goings on increasing? Surely over time a place rests, its hauntings don't increase; so what is goin on here?

I bought this book for a kindle I'd received for Christmas because the book was a special low price and the link with the first world war intrigued me. Kindles should come with a clock in the corner so that you don't keep reading till 4 in the morning, like I did with this book, because I couldn't put it down. I forced myself to stay awake to see what happened next.

The reason I gave it 4 stars not 5 is because it does seem to to and fro a bit in the last 40 pages or so; I felt the conclusion could have been more neatly arrived at. Lots of phone calls and visits and fast trips to visit people etc. all at once; it seemed like a rush to the finish after a good read. Having said that, an epilogue leaves things neat and leaves you with a good feeling.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric Thriller in parts, 15 Aug 2010
By 
Mrs. C. Colbert (Blackburn, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Hardcover)
I picked this book up from the library as I was drawn to the cover picture of a ghostly spectre of an old soldier.

The story started really well and I was drawn in as Martin Stride's family experienced strange happenings centred on the waiting room which was about half a mile away from their house -- his son saw the soldier's apparition there, singing was heard of an old war-time song and the faint rumble of a train was heard, even though there were no tracks. All very scary.

Enter the enigmatic, laid-back, confident Julian Creed, TV ghost hunter, who's a complete fake, but who's job is "to discover what had summoned the waiting room back into baleful life and return it to rest." Not believing in ghosts he gets quite a shock when an apparition appears in front of him when he stays there for one night............

As he and his researcher try to discover more about the nearby now demolished asylum that was open in the 1920's they uncover terrible secrets from the past that could have an impact on the present and the future.

The story itself was atmospheric and chilling in parts but I felt that about three quarters of the way in it lost its way and I started feeling a little confused as to what was happening and why, and I thought there were too many questions that weren't answered satisfactorily for me. Also the dialogue was sometimes unreal and stilted.

Overall, a decent horror story but one that probably won't stay in my mind.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfyingly creepy!, 7 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Hardcover)
I also saw this book in the library and was drawn to the title and front cover, although having previously read FG Cottam's House of Lost Souls and been disappointed, I was not sure how this would turn out. That said, I really really enjoyed it. The idea of a haunted railway station really sparks the imagination, thinking of the comings and goings of so many passengers over a period of years and I was satisfying chilled through the author's descriptions of the soldier and the investigator Julian's stake out of the station. I also liked the background and explanation for the events (I won't spoil it!), but felt somehow dissatisifed at the reasonably hasty ending and the fate of the main characters - it seemed so short given the carefully planned suspense and lead up! Maybe I just didn't want it to end though and am a sucker for happy endings! Am definitely going to re-investigate the other titles by Cottam that I have missed since House of Lost Souls!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story - the horrors of war live on, 1 Jan 2012
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book - okay, it's not great literature, but I don't think it pretends to be. What it is, is a good story, told at a good pace - some of the matters raised in the story are unlikely, if not downright bizarre, but I don't think that has to stand in the way of a good story, that keeps the reader engaged to the end, to find out what happens next. This is a good story for a lazy Sunday afternoon - the reader's attention is held by the story, and while some of the elements of the story lack subtlety, or realism, the concept of the horror of the War, and the ongoing horror that so many men lived through afterwards, is told in a sympathetic way. I cannot imagine how those men lived through such times, or how so many of them managed to retain their sanity at all.

A good, but not great story - a good one to while away a lazy day reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully engaging, 11 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
It isn't very often that a modern book holds my attention,but this one did.The story had it all,phantom trains,lunatic asylum,and ghosts!!!!Gripped from the start,you just knew the ending wouldn't be good.A good read,the only downside was the stilted dialogue.An ex rock star would never have spoken like Martin Stride did.
Will read his others,and hope they are as good.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great. Fairly enjoyable on the whole!, 24 May 2012
By 
Laura "@ Scattered Figments" (NEATH, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Waiting Room (Paperback)
These days there's an abundance of horror for a reading audience to sink their teeth into, but little of it really creeps me out. In choosing The Waiting Room, I was hoping for a back to basics ghost story that would remind me of Henry James or Susan Hill. I can't say I was thrilled with what I got, but I wasn't exactly disappointed, either.

The premise of Cottam's work isn't hugely original: a ghost-hunter who doesn't believe in ghosts is sent to spend a night in a haunted waiting room. However, it's the sort of idea that I like. I wanted to be frightened and the idea provided the opportunity for just that.

There were moments in the book when the description of the hauntings really did raise goosebumps on my arms. Admittedly I made the mistake of reading parts of this at night... if you're going to invest in this to be frightened by it, then read it on a cold, windy night while your other half, parents, pets etc. are out. Then it's freaky! If this had been a short story or novella, I think it might have worked better for me. What let it down was the characterisation. I had absolutely no idea when this was set! Everyone spoke in the same old-fashioned, very English dialect (very Henry James, in fact...) and there was barely any variation between the different characters.

This is one of those books which was enjoyable enough, but I've already forgotten half of the characters' names. I liked the Wilfred Owen references as I'm a fan of his poetry...but later on in the book his ghostly echoes become heavy-handed and end up taking you out of the creepy suspense of the tale.

Overall, this one was just okay.
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The Waiting Room by F. G. Cottam
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