David Morris lives the quiet life of a book-valuer for a London auction house, travelling every day by omnibus to his office in the Strand. When he is asked to make a trip to rural Somerset to value the library of the recently deceased Lord Buff-Orpington, the sense of trepidation he feels as he heads into the country is confirmed the moment he reaches his destination, the dark and impoverished village of Ashbrittle. These feelings turn to dread when he meets the enigmatic Professor Richard Hunt and catches a glimpse of a screaming woman he keeps prisoner in his house.
Peter Benson’s novel is a slick Gothic tale in the English tradition, a murder mystery, a reflection on the works of the masters of the French Enlightenment and a tour of Edwardian England. More than this, it is a work of atmosphere and unease which creates a world of inhuman anxiety and suspense.
"It is a story whose discovery should be savoured. Everything is present and correct, from the Hammer-style warnings from the rural yokels about the goings-on in the big house, to the many gaps in people's pasts that have to be filled in. One is instantly reminded of The Woman in Black by Susan Hill with the learned professional going to the rural house and possibly finding more than he could ever fear, but the book is clever enough to depart from all such gothic precedents and, without forcing too much modernity on us, plough its own furrow." (The Bookbag)
"One of the most distinctive voices in modern British fiction" (Evening Standard)
"A terrific tale of gothic horror which unexpectedly twists into a murder and then love story… I do so enjoy an author who can surprise with each book. Highly recommended" (The Bookseller)
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not as good as Two Cows and a Van full of Smoke!