Adam Snow is an antiquarian book dealer, dealing in the high end of the book market. His business takes him all over the world, and indeed the UK, and one evening he's on his way back to London from Sussex, having decided to take the scenic route, when he gets lost. He finds himself on a bit of a dirt track which leads to a large house. The sign says 'Garden closed' and, assuming that he'll be able to get directions at the house, Adam enters the garden. It doesn't take him long to realise that the house has fallen into disrepair and the garden likewise, but he pushes on to explore his surroundings a bit more.
And as I stood I felt a small hand creep into my right one, as if a child had come up beside me in the dimness and taken hold of it...'
And thus begin some rather strange events. Adam finds that the small hand is now a presence in his life. At first comforting, it suddenly because less so. It seems the hand is trying to force him to jump into water. On a trip to a monastry in France to look over a Shakespeare folio, and lost in the mountains, the hand tries to force him to jump over a precipice.
There is a definite mystery here. Or is Adam having a break-down like his brother, Hugo, some years ago? Slowly Adam unravels some strange facts about the house and its previous owners who renovated the garden and made it world-famous. But will he able to get to the heart of the mysterious events before he is literally killed by a ghost?
Well, this one got some mixed reviews on Amazon and, I seem to recall, mixed reviews in the blogasphere too. Personally, I really liked it. But then I'm a real sucker for a beautifully told ghost story that harks back to another time. Because, although this story is set in the present day, it actually feels almost Edwardian. The style of writing, the bookish, academic sort of background, and the way in which the garden and house are depicted, are all reminiscent of ghost stories written at the turn of the last century. And I particularly liked the section set in the French monastry... so peaceful and calming that I actually wanted to go there.
I can't say the ending was much of a surprise. And for those who like their ghost stories to scare them out of their wits this will not fit the bill. It's atmospheric and creepy, and just the sort of excellent writing you would expect from the author of one of my favourite ever ghost yarns, The Woman in Black, and the Simon Serrailler crime series. I confess I am quite a fan of her writing and, for me anyway, this ghost story more than lived up to my expectations. It's physically a beautiful little book which I'll definitely be adding to my permanent collection of supernatural tales.