Rickman, Phil - 'Night After Night'
Phil Rickman is an established author and first-rate teller of tales that seamlessly mix together fact and fiction. His previous successes include his books on Dr Dee, a mysterious real life character that was alive at the time of Elizabeth I, and his acclaimed Merrily Watkins series. I have read several of Rickman's earlier books and am a firm fan. I particularly like the way it is not obvious what is historical truth and what is made up until you read the author's note at the end of his books.
This current book, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, does not disappoint. It features Grayle Underhill, a journalist with a feel for the paranormal, who is made redundant and lands a job as a researcher for a TV programme that is due to be aired live later that year. The programme, called Big Other, will see a number of celebrities, some who believe in ghosts and others who don't, placed together in an unknown "haunted house" for a week. The aim of the programme is to prove the existence of ghosts. Or not. Grayle's task is to find out as much as she can about the history of the house and its previous occupants that are now believed to haunt it. She is convinced that "something" haunts the house, but isn't quite sure what, and sets out to complete her task of tracking down anyone with a story to tell. Not everything she discovers is pleasant. Some of it is downright sinister. Her problem is that the programme's producer is very definitely fixed on making his show a success - with real or imagined ghosts - and doesn't really care about Grayle's discoveries. You, the reader, are overcome with a sense that something nasty is about to happen, but just how nasty will leave you shocked to the core.
It took me a while to get properly ‘into' this book. The beginning is quite slow and I was impatient for the scary stuff to start. However, my attitude did the book a serious injustice. This slow build up sets the scene, introduces the characters that will be living in the house, and lets you get to know Grayle quite well. Only then do tensions start to build and things start to get interesting, as the house is let loose on its temporary inhabitants - with shocking consequences.
Amanda Gillies, Scotland