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on 28 July 2017
I had high hopes for this novel but it was tedious and blindingly angst ridden in its prose.

Take out the fluff and it's an interesting read about Borley and the interlinked newspaper articles but apart from that.....better books put there.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 January 2014
Based upon existing reviews I was expecting a lot from this book. Unfortunately, for me it failed to deliver. Basically, it's the story of true life ghost hunter, Harry Price, and his ridiculously compliant assistant Sarah Grey, 23 years his junior and, an ex-glamour model, of all things! Did `glamour' models exist in the 1920s? The answer is a resounding no! Clearly, though slightly later, there were `pin-up' girls, Betty Grable being the obvious example, and `French postcards', but `glamour modelling' as we know it today, didn't exist and if it did it certainly wouldn't have been the sort of `profession' entered into by a respectably brought up young woman.

Anyway, that aside, Harry Price's story is told from Sarah's viewpoint and she wastes no time in telling us how physically unattractive she thought he was, pointing out, among other decidedly unappealing features, his `yellow' teeth on more than one occasion. As the story proceeds we also find out, if the book is to be believed, what a truly obnoxious scoundrel the man was: not only a fraud regarding psychic phenomena but his whole life was based upon lies and, just to add the final nail to his character coffin, he was a Nazis sympathizer to boot! He also treated Sarah with often ill-disguised disdain and ranted and raved, almost to the point of physical violence, at anyone who questioned his ultimate authority. All of this and we are expected to believe that this young attractive and intelligent woman worshipped the ground upon which he walked.

It was this aspect of the story and her simpering attitude towards this monster that, for me, undermined any credibility the book might have had in revealing the true story of Harry Price and the true mystery of Borley Rectory. Why the author chose to invent, as his narrator an attractive much younger woman, is more of a mystery in itself than anything revealed within the pages of his debut novel.

The book opens promisingly as a first person account told by Dr Robert Caxton, a psychologist who has received a `curious letter' from a library curator of the University of London asking him to call and collect a mysterious manuscript, which turns out to be authored by Sarah Grey. It is only in the final chapter that we learn its significance for Caxton who provides an appropriate epilogue. Sandwiched between the opening and the epilogue, which are fine pieces of writing and worth at least 4 stars, is the `confession of Sara Grey', a much less assured piece of writing and worth, at the most, only 2. To me, the reason why she found Price so alluring and why she felt compelled to sacrifice so much for his benefit wasn't articulated clearly enough and, as a result, she never `rang true' and thus, unfortunately, neither did her story.

Some of the reviews of this book have been nauseatingly `gushing' which, in itself is more mystifying than anything revealed in its pages and makes one wonder if the people responsible have read any genuinely good ghost stories, two obvious examples being Susan Hill's, The Woman in Black; and Jonathan Ayecliffe's, The Matrix; both genuine spine-tinglers!
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This novel merges fact and fiction in an absorbing and evocative ghost story. Harry Price (1881-1948) was a real psychic researcher; a sceptic renowned for exposing fake spiritualists and best known for his investigation into Borley Rectory, called `the most haunted house in England." In this book, an academic is given a manuscript by Miss Sarah Grey, which tells the story of Price's investigation into Borley Rectory. Miss Grey was a young woman whose father had died in the first world war and who lived with her mother. Like many of her generation, her mother looked for answers in spiritualism, which flourished after the war, capitalising on grief. Sarah and her mother attend a meeting with Mr Price, after which she is fascinated by both him and his work. Before long, she has become his assistant and her life is changed forever.

This story takes place over some years, following Price's work looking at mediums and at the unfolding story of Borley Rectory and the visits made there by him and Sarah Grey, as well as journalist Vernon Wall and the changing inhabitants of the Rectory. Those of you who enjoy horror books may find this a little tame - but it is perfectly pitched for those who enjoy a more old fashioned ghost story. The characters are sympathetic, the events at the Rectory both creepy and sensational and neither those in the book, nor the readers, are sure what to believe. My main complaint with most ghost stories are the endings, which are often either tame or unbelievable, but the author manages to finish the book well and bring about a sense of completion. Overall, I found this very impressive - it would make a wonderful book for a reading group too, which much to discuss and is a perfect Halloween treat.
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on 26 March 2018
A really good read and creepy too. We all love a good ghost story and the occasional scare, this one delivers on all counts. The haunted house, a ghostly nun and more things going bump in the night than the anyone would want happening to them. It's been such a good read, I've even bought a DVD of the TV series just to see how they compare. Well worth reading, so five stars from me.
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on 3 December 2013
I love ghost stories and I thought they didn't write 'em like they used to in the Victorian and Edwardian heyday. Neil Spring has proved otherwise. Floorboard-creakingly spooky - and based on a true story. What a superb debut novel, and not a sign of inexperience on the author's part.

Spring has done a great job of fictionalising the real-life Ghost Hunter Harry Price - we see this arrogant mountebank through the eyes of his fictional secretary, the intelligent but gullible Sarah. Was Borley Rectory haunted or was it all a hoax? Spring leaves the reader guessing, and pretty damn scared along the way!

My only criticism of this great book is the use of footnotes in the text - out of place in a novel, really; the author's note should be the place for authorial comment and explanations. But otherwise, a rollicking good ghost story.
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on 2 May 2018
Good book
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on 18 February 2018
Enjoyable light read preferred his second book.
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on 7 March 2018
It's gripping, a good read but i personally think there's alot of waffle.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 10 November 2013
At just over 500 pages, THE GHOST HUNTERS is not exactly a quick read and a book of that size this demands that it is interesting enough to keep you pressing on through the pages. If you come to book expecting it to be a traditional haunted house story, you may well be disappointed.

The story is narrated by Sarah Grey, a fictitious character. However, Harry Price, the ghost hunter, is based on a real person. The location of his infamous study, Borley Rectory, is also a real place. And, Harry did indeed call it the most haunted house in England. However, what you have here is a fictional account of his involvement with the house. As a scientist and a sceptic, Harry makes for an interesting and complex personality. At the end of the novel, Spring has included in his afterword a list of the facts in relation to Harry and Borley. This in itself is worth taking the time to read, once you have finished the novel itself.

What Spring has accomplished is a psychological ghost story. Harry shifts between seemingly wanting to debunk the stories of haunted houses and mediums, to then wanting to prove the existence of some other realm. At times, this can be frustrating as a reader; you are never really sure if the goings on are really occurring or if someone is fabricating them; but, of course, this was exactly what Harry was up against. However, what Spring has done is he has managed to create an engaging, sometimes truly creepy story, which makes use of real folklore to suggest what might have happened on one of Harry's cases.
Despite its size, you should find yourself getting through this one fairly quickly - you may just want to keep the light on after reading it at night.
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on 27 December 2013
I was sufficiently intrigued to finish this, although I must admit that the attraction was more to do with what I already knew about Borley Rectory and its strange past than the appeal of the narrative. The problem, for me, was that in attempting to follow the true story with faithful accuracy, the author turned what ought to have been a fast-paced and scary novel into a lightly fictionalised "documentary". True life, admittedly, does not conveniently arrange itself into the ideal novel form; it is the job of the author, when writing a story based on real life events, to shape events appropriately.

The result, in the case of 'The Ghost Hunters', is unsatisfactory. The force of the final revelations - which I won't mention as I don't want to put in 'spoilers' - was weakened by their being predictable, and the final analysis of Harry Price was muddled and lacking in force and conviction. We were left with no firm conclusions on the great Borley Rectory mystery; was this deliberate, an author leaving the reader to make up her own mind? Perhaps, although personally I'd have liked less fence-sitting and a more dynamic conclusion. After persevering for what felt like a very long time, I felt I needed more of a reward.

I would just about recommend this to anyone who, like me, grew up aware of the intriguing history of this extraordinary house, although in the end it didn't reveal much.
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