This one is Ray's other novel and different from Malpertuis in several ways.

A retired policeman (a glorified pencil pusher) moves into a cottage he inherits in the country. His arrival marks a string of disappearances and grisly deaths. What is behind all of this? Something supernatural or something in the flesh?

Unfortunately, this one is one of Ray's weaker books. It's not without some merit, though. The prologue to the book makes allusions to fear of the unknown, referring to the vague forces of darkness as 'they'. This is evoked throughout the book and helps to create a suitable atmosphere. Thematic elements notwithstanding, the book feels disjointed. As a contrast, Malpertuis was more focused and made it easier to carry the reader through without too many sittings. This one was more of a slough despite being a short book.

It's worth mentioning that this book is considered a tribute and also something of a parody to English novels of the same mold, particularly those by Charles Dickens who wrote a few mysteries in his time. Ray admired Dickens immensely, but that didn't keep him from poking fun at English customs and fictional tropes. His love of Chaucer also shines through by name-dropping him early in the book.

Ray's prose is always a treat and the story is still pretty interesting. If anything, it's a wonderful title. This book teeters between B- and C+, worth checking out but my least favorite of the line of Ray books released by Wakefield Press. I hope to see the seventh one soon and will keep you posted.

Written by Nicholas Montelongo

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