Richard Storm is passionate, hot-blooded, and running out of time. Sophia Endering is cool, beautiful, and haunted by a centuries-old mystery. Now the Hollywood filmmaker and the troubled young woman have come together in a race against the unbelievable, the unthinkable, and. . . The Uncanny.
Richard Storm reached the top of his profession producing horror films based on classic English ghost stories. Now, with his life beginning to unravel, Richard is searching for something to believe in. Fleeing Hollywood for London, he embarks on a desperate quest: to find evidence that the great old stories bear some truth, that the human spirit lives on after death.
What he finds is Sophia, a woman caught in a nightmare more chilling than any of his film horrors. Propelled by a furious love, haunted by a terror he can barely confess to himself, Storm pursues Sophia through the labyrinth of her family’s madness and their involvement in Nazi art thefts, down a trail formed by the classic ghost stories themselves–into the very heart of the uncanny. . . .
“Trolls, he thought. That’s what it was. Religious people believed God ran the world. Atheists figured it was indifferent nature. But it was trolls. Sadistic little homunculi in leather jackets with lots of zippers. Hiding behind the scrim of being. Working the machinery to maximize human suffering for their own amusement.”
A wealthy Hollywood cowboy-cum-movie-producer travels to England in the hope of seeing a ghost, or a voice from beyond: “Something uncanny, you know. Anything. One lousy uncanny thing.” He hangs out with a marvelous old woman–a professional skeptic armed with a sword cane and an ever-puffing pipe with a skull-shaped bowl–and the other staff of a semi-tabloid rag called Bizarre! He meets the woman of his dreams, who is billed as being utterly inaccessible and frigid to boot. Then before you can say “conspiracy theory,” Andrew Klavan has whipped all of them into a humorous confection with elements of German romantic art, English Gothic architecture, 19th-century ghost stories, Norse mythology, South American cult leaders, Nazi witchcraft, and the Holy Grail. Even the ghost of M.R. James has a key role in the plot. It’s not a deep novel–you get the sense that Klavan doesn’t take one iota of it seriously–but it’s good supernatural fun.” –Fiona Webster
Few people can resist a ghost story, and this one by two-time Edgar Award winner Klavan (True Crime, LJ 4/15/95) is bewitching. Set in England, with the requisite crumbling abbey haunted by a nun, it concerns a man’s demonic quest for eternal life. Klavan updates the old-fashioned ghost story to include a Hollywood producer protagonist, the Nazi theft of some of Europe’s best art, and a religious cult. The plot moves forward smoothly, the characters are plausible, and the literary quotes are enriching. Most noteworthy, though, is the structure: The story line is interrupted several times by ancient ghost stories. Intriguing in their own right, they also hold important clues to the current mystery’s solution. Recommended for most collections.
– Dorothy S. Golden, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“In an effort to mix literary stylishness with gothic convention, Klavan (True Crime, 1995, etc.) stuffs an American film director into a badly padded English ghost story. When told that he has a brain tumor, Richard Storm, 40, who has directed more than 20 successful Hollywood horror films, abandons his work, moves to London, and joins the two-man staff of Bizarre!, a magazine about the paranormal that he respects and that may actually lead him to a few hard facts in proof of an afterlife. The staff: middle-aged Harper Albright, who smokes a death’s-head meerschaum pipe and carries a sword cane, and her seemingly gay son Bernard, a computer whiz. Then Storm finds himself falling for Sophia Endering, a young woman almost half his age, who helps her wealthy father, Sir Michael, run an art gallery. Sophia is confronted by a Resurrectionist, who tells her that he will be murdered that night and that whoever buys a panel from the famous Rhinehart triptych of the Holy Family (soon going up for auction at Sotheby’s) will be his killer. The triptych, an art treasure looted by German occultists who were helping to guide Hitler, has just surfaced. When Sir Michael sends Sophia to Sotheby’s with instructions to buy the panel at any price, Sophia thinks her father a murderer, goes batty, and tries to hang herself. Storm arrives at just that moment, though, to save her. The two fall in love but soon find themselves fending off Saint Iago, a devil incarnate and the father of Bernard, who once murdered his entire band of followers (and who must sacrifice his own children to maintain eternal youth). What’s he after? A formula for longevity that’s encoded in the Rhinehart triptych. A cocktail of the feisty and the fusty, flavored with bitters by Bernard but with too much sweet vermouth and too watery by half.” — Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
“Gripping…a modern ghost story…the results are exhilarating.”
“Glamorous, eccentric and engrossing. . . .a sort of upscale X-Files.”
–St. Petersburg Times (Fla.)
–The Orlando Sentinel
“Klavan pulls out all the stops . . . .The suspense is high, the fun factor higher.”
–The Seattle Times — Review