Fabian Hightower has been killed in a car crash. At least, that is what a policeman is asking Alex, his mother to believe. But Alex knows she saw him that morning - at a time when he must have been dead.
When the funeral is over Alex tries hard to forget her bizarre experience. But her mind seems to be playing strange tricks on her, turning her grief into horror. When she turns to a medium her worst fears are realised. Fabian has unfinished business and he is determined to come back. But why Whatever the answer, something terrifies the medium so much she refuses to return. Alex longs to turn to others for support. But there is a secret about Fabian that only she knows a secret she must never share.
A solidly entertaining if very traditional ghost story from a British novelist new to US publication. No gore, no sex - and scarcely a jot of originality - intrude upon James' effective repolishing of several dusty horror saws: the mysteriously moving trunk; cold spots; psychic readings; seances; exorcism, etc. The premise for all this otherworldly oddness? The car-crash death of Fabian, beloved son of ace London literary agent Alex and her estranged husband David Hightower. Fabian, it seems, simply refuses to cross over to the other side, preferring instead to drag that trunk around, exude foul smells, pop up in faces that Alex is about to kiss, and even leave messages on her computer screen (HELLO, MOTHER). Or is someone - something - else causing all the fuss? The natty medium whom Alex consults thinks that an evil spirit mimicking Fabian might be at work, and Fabian's old college chum - well, he just smirks deep secrets when Alex pays him a visit. And why does the terrified voice of Alex's old girlfriend come down the celestial pipeline during a seance when she's supposedly on vacation in Boston? Bit by bit, an ever more frazzled Alex puts the clues together, only to wind up deadcenter in a gothic occult web strung with madness, a restless demon, Fabian's real dad, a ballroom under a lake, and - sad to say - a confused resolution spoiled further by a cheap, jack-in-the-box ending. By grounding his fast-paced tale in a most sympathetic and believable heroine, and in a realism built of the mundane details of London life, James revitalizes his tired elements and cloaks them in a creepy - rarely chilling - claustrophobia that should please a good many readers while offending none. More discerning or adventurous horror fans, however, will be far better served by the dazzling inventions of Clive Barker's Cabal, reviewed above. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 7th December 2000
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 11.0 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.2
Edition Number: 1