Haunted Ballads - Book 4
Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes’s brother has returned
from Hong Kong with a comfortable fortune and a new bride and is planning
to build a house on land he’s inherited. Because they want a house
as much like an Elizabethan mansion as its “mod cons” will
allow, they ask Penny’s lover, Ringan Laine, to work on it as
a consultant. Ringan is not only a noted musician but also a designer
and architect well versed in the first Elizabeth’s colorful period.
The house is to be on the Isle of Dogs, and Penny’s
brother, his new wife, and Penny herself are delighted with the site.
Ringan, however, comes away feeling very uncomfortable. A few weeks
later, in London on business, he goes back alone, hoping to clear up
any misgivings he has about the place. But this visit is even worse
than the first. He hears women’s voices, frightening and full
of passion, coming from the air around him.
That evening, Ringan is sleeping in Penny’s
flat; she has taken her theater troupe to Italy. A late-night phone
call from Penny reveals to them both that they had an identical dream.
In it, two young women on the Isle of Dogs are fighting. One is begging
the other not to drown her. Their speech and their clothes put them
firmly in the reign of Henry VIII. Once more, Penny and Ringan are being
visited by tragic spirits from their country’s past.
This is the fourth in Deborah Grabien’s gripping
and unusual Haunted Ballad series. Her stories pair two sophisticated
and very likable people whose lives are invaded by tortured souls from
England’s history. With each encounter, Penny and Ringan are forced
to find a way to lay a long-suffering ghost to rest.
"Grabien's Ringan Laine series is both unusual and entertaining in
that she combines British folk music, British history, and the world
of the modern recording star with paranormal elements. In this fourth
entry (after Matty Groves ), musician/house restorer Ringan Laine
is hired to make sure the Tudor-style house that lover Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes's
brother wants to build on the Isle of Dogs is authentic. But Ringan
begins to hear voices and have terrifying visions, leading him to
call upon a group of outstanding historical researchers to help him
investigate a 1540 murder. Grabien seamlessly weaves between time
periods, making the reader believe in the possibility of the paranormal.
As gentle as Barbara Michaels's paranormal suspense novels, Grabien's
are also as downright frightening as Daniel Hecht's Cree Black thrillers.
- Library Journal (***Starred Review***)
In Grabien's mesmerizing fourth mystery of ghostly suspense (after
2005's Matty Groves), actress Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes gets a call
from her long-absent brother, Stephen, who has returned to London
from Hong Kong with his wife, Tamsin, to claim land he inherited on
the Isle of Dogs, situated on the Thames. Stephen wants Penny's lover,
Ringan Laine, a folk musician and expert in period restoration, to
consult on his plan to build a Tudor-style manor house on the site.
Ringan's uneasy first steps on the isle are only the prelude to the
horror of visions to come. A girl who drowns her sister, a pack of
baying dogs and a musician from Henry VIII's court invade Ringan's
dreams and his waking life. As in previous entries to the series,
one of Ringan's folksongs figures into the story and enhances the
drama. Grabien's skillful blend of reality and the supernatural will
chill even skeptical readers.
- Publishers Weekly
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