The Seance

How many times have you read a book in a book discussion that was so good you said you were going to read another book by the same author?

How many times have you never read another book by that author?

That pretty much describes me.  I take the pledge and then fail to take step one.  However, this summer, things are different.  Back on June 29th I told you about our end of the year book discussion on Ghost Writer by John Harwood. 

That book was so impressive that from the library I checked out The Seance by the same author and have managed to keep it out overdue until this week when I finally read it.

Horror is not my first choice for reading but I think this book has elements of that genre that might stretch your group’s reading interests.  Perhaps a better way to describe this book would be to say it is a Gothic as there is a wonderful old creaky mansion called Wraxford Hall on the Suffolk coast that plays a big part in the plot.  Disappearing bodies, ghosts, false identities, lightning strikes in a laboratory, inheritences and diaries all fill the pages with questions.

Harwood’s style often involves storylines that cross time periods and reveal details in these compound narratives almost like a mystery story. 

What is most impressive about this book is the same element that made Ghost Writer so compelling:  Harwood writes like a modern day Wilkie Collins.  The story elements are interesting and the tale is told in a literary manner without losing its pace.  There is a depth to the writing here that will drive a discussion forward in most book discussions. 

And I am glad that I finally read a second novel by an author that I liked.  I just might say that I will do this again some time.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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