Read of the Week

The House on Cold Hill

Peter James


Review: Brian Joss

Peter James, known for his Roy Grace thrillers, turns his attention to a house haunted by malevolent spirits.

When Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their 12-year-old daughter, Jade, move from the centre of Brighton and Hove to Cold Hill House, a dilapidated Georgian pile in Sussex that needs renovating, a lot of it, it is a dream come true for web designer Ollie, not so much Caro, his solicitor wife who has serious misgivings, and Jade who will miss her city friends.

But Cold Hill House is not what it seems: within its damp and musty walls, it hides terrible secrets and it has a history of tragedies going back to 1750 when the mansion was built to order by a penniless Sir Brangwyn De Glossope, who apparently murdered his wealthy first wife, Matilda, leaving him free to travel the world with his mistress, Evelyne Tyler, who subsequently fell to her death.

So who are the restless spirits causing such havoc for the Harcourts? Taps are turned on mysteriously; ceilings fall down; strange messages are sent via Ollie’s computer to his customers; he pictures things before they happen; visits people who have long been dead; he encounters a mystery gardener and sees his family’s names on a tombstone. But nobody seems to have any logical explanation and the Harcourts, except Jade who thinks it is a bit of a lark, are terrified out of their wits.

Then there is a mysterious window in a room that doesn’t appear to exist, where the ghosts live. I doubt whether the indomitable Detective Superintendent Roy Grace would have been much help in this spooky story.

It’s a haunting tale (pun intended) and the climax will send shivers down your spine as history starts to repeat itself.