When folklorist, musician and expert property restorer Ringan Laine receives an invitation for himself and his band, Broomfield Hill, to play at the exclusive and prestigious Callowen House festival in the English countryside, he accepts without hesitation. Not only does the coveted invitation-only concert mean an enormous paycheque and a stay at one of Britain’s more famous haunted houses, Ringan’s invitation is extended to his longtime girlfriend, theatrical producer Penelope Wintercraft-Hawkes, as well.
After two close encounters with ghosts, the couple (and the other members of Broomfield Hill) are looking forward to a stay in a house they already know to be haunted. No exorcism will be required of them this time. Callowen House is not only haunted, the home’s eccentric music-loving owner, Lord Callowen, is quite proud of his phantom, with no desire to lose it.
But they haven’t passed two nights of their two-week stay before Jane Castle, Broomfield Hill’s flautist and vocalist, becomes uncomfortably aware that there may be more than one spirit moving through doors and walls at Callowen House. A spirit that lay dormant for five centuries has been awakened by the sensitive Penny’s presence, and held there by Jane Castle: the spirit of a serving man, killed by Callowen’s original owner, Lord Arnold Callowen, for the crime of lusting after Arnold’s beautiful young wife, the Lady Susanna. And Jane Castle, daughter of a long line of healers, midwives and witches, bears an uncanny resemblance to the famous portrait of that long-dead wife.
It will take all Broomfield Hill’s musical knowledge and expertise, and all of Penny’s intuitive ghostly understanding, to rid Callowen House of its unwelcome guest, while leaving its original ghost intact.
Matty Groves is the third novel in the Ringan Laine series.
“In Grabien’s third tale of ghostly detection (after 2004’s The Famous Flower of Serving Men ), her most chillingly effective performance to date, folk singer Ringan Laine and his group, Broomfield Hill, have been invited to perform at the prestigious Callowen Arts Festival at Callowen House in Hampshire, England. Accompanied by his longtime lover, actress Penelope Wintercraft-Hawkes, Ringan sets off in high spirits, but quickly strange things begin to happen. Jane Castle, vocalist and flautist for the group, has unsettling nightmares in her bedroom, while Penny and Ringan are deeply disturbed by some ghostly presence in theirs. Penny, Ringan and the others embark on a desperate race to uncover the truth about a vicious and malevolent ghost that haunts Callowen House. As in previous entries, a folk song, “Matty Groves,” provides clues. Grabien ratchets up the suspense steadily and implacably, and the resolution is deeply satisfying. Fans of Barbara Michaels’s classic ghostly suspense stories will enjoy this immensely. Agent, Jennifer Jackson at DMLA . (Oct.)”
-Publishers Weekly (***Starred Review***)
“Ringan Laine, leader of the British band Broomfield Hill, is thrilled to be invited to perform at the prestigious Callowen House Arts Festival. He has second thoughts when he learns that the house is haunted. He and his lover, Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes, have dealt with ghosts on two previous occasions, and they do not want to meet any more. Miles Leight-Arnold, the festival’s patron, is proud of his family ghost, boasting that Winston Churchill met the spirit. When Ringan and his colleagues arrive at the estate, they discover another evil ghost lurking there. This one seeks revenge for a lost lover who happens to resemble Jane Castle, the ensemble’s flautist. Ringan, Penny, and the band have their hands full trying to sort out the events that led to the haunting. Grabien (The Famous Flower of Serving Men, 2004) weaves folklore, history, and mystery into an intriguing tale with supernatural overtones. Readers who enjoy a good ghost story will find this one most satisfying.”
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