Customer Review

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good debut with ghosts and satanism, 13 Dec 2009
This review is from: The House of Lost Souls (Paperback)
F.G. Cottam makes a pretty solid start with this debut novel, a gothic horror show, a detective story and a love story entwined; it is a story within a story within a story.

Four young female students and their tutor have been subject to a bizarre and horrific experience at the derelict Fischer House, one of the students has died as a result and the others are mentally damaged. At the girl's funeral attended by her three friends, the brother of a survivor is spooked by something he sees and detemines to do all he can to help his sister recover.

In London meanwhile, Paul Seaton is a man with a past and not much else going for him right now. He is approached by Malcom Covey, who seems to know a lot about the events at the Fischer House and enough about Seaton to persuade him to help the brother and sister overcome whatever it was she experienced. Seaton is reluctant, this is too close to his past catching up with him, but he has an unexplained affinity with the girl's experiences and, anyway, Covey is offering him enough money to make it difficult to resist.

Seaton sets off to meet the tutor, then the girl and her brother, and Cottam now begins unravelling Seaton's past. Here is our first story within, the background that explains Seaton's emapthy with the girl and his reluctance to get involved this time. As Seaton's life unfurls, Cottam unwraps his second embedded story, one of debauchery, crime and Satanism set in the 1920s.

Cottam sets himself no mean task with such a complex interweaving of threads, but does enough to hold it together and keep it moving apace. He often displays his journalistic rather than literary skills, for example I found his pre-occupation with itemising every music track and artist Seaton hears, and he hears a lot, increasingly annoying. His device of a discovered journal to expose the events of the 1920s is formulaic, and it is more a novel itself rather than a journal, but I nonetheless found the unravelling of that story quite gripping, as was Seaton's detective work to find it.

Overall a pretty good opener and I will certainly read his next.
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