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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, unforgettable characters in a gripping story., 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Whispering (A Nell West and Michael Flint Haunted House Story) (Hardcover)
I can't believe my good fortune in finding this book. Sarah Rayne is a new author for me so when I saw the novel was described as a haunted house mystery I took a chance and found a gem of a story. The novel is set in modern times, but concerns research Oxford don Dr. Michael Flint is doing into the influence music had on poetry written during the Great War. There is a connection to the Palestrina Choir of the Sacre-Coeur convent in Liege, Belgium, captured by the German army, and an ancestor of Miss Luisa Gilmore, who has given Flint permission to look into the family papers for information into what caused the disaster which befell the choir. Miss Gilmore reluctantly allows Michael to remain overnight in her home only because a tree has been blown across the road and he cannot get his car around it to drive to the village. Located in a particularly remote part of the Fens, Fosse House conjures up all the stereotypes of the haunted house, with the air of disrepair and the groans and creaks old houses are famous for. That must be the cause of the whispers Michael hears which seem to be a voice imploring him to allow someone entry, but what is the explanation for the shadowy form he so plainly sees?

The atmosphere of suspense was so wonderfully created that I actually was startled when my telephone rang while I was reading this book. I positively jumped! The story of what happened at the convent and later in Holzminden, the German prisoner of war camp for British officers, is told through letters written by those involved in the story and uncovered by various people in different locations. I liked the way the strands of the story intersected through hearing about what happened from various characters so all the loose ends were tied up by the story's end. The author's skill in blending the stormy weather, the conditions of the house, and the isolation of the location and Luisa Gilmore combined to make a riveting plot. Then to add in the pathos of the young girl sent away to a convent and the horrors witnessed on the battlefield by a young man whose mind became too fragile to survive everyday life resulted in this author painting tragic, unforgettable characters in a gripping story.

I've discovered that Sarah Rayne has written quite a few novels which are probably easier to find in England than here in the U. S. Some of the books are available on Kindle, but not all of them. I can't be absolutely certain, but it appears that the first novel to feature Michael Flint would be The Sin Eater, followed by Property of A Lady where Nell West makes her entrance into the series, and then The Silence. I began my exploration with the fourth book and had absolutely no problem with continuity or understanding what had come before in previous novels. If you enjoy the psychological thriller, this novel will definitely give you that. My decision now is which book to read next.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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