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Wednesday 1 April 2020

‘This Game of Ghosts’ by Carol Westron

Independently published,
17 February 2020.
ISBN: 978-860825749-0 (PB)

“Jackie, do you believe in ghosts?”
“Of course,” she sounds surprised that I have to ask, “Don’t you?”

Honey and Matt Alder split up seven years ago - one year after the untimely death of their teenage son, Simon.  The cruel bereavement had such a profound impact on Honey, Matt and daughter Allie, that their lives were shattered in ways they could never have imagined.  Honey suffered anxiety and depression; Matthew sought comfort in an affair; and Allie withdrew from her parents, began a relationship with a married man, fell pregnant, and is now mother to twenty-month old Ben. Over the past three years Matt has become increasingly isolated from his daughter and ex-wife.  Honey, on the other hand, is now getting her life back on track, she has returned to work as an English teacher and is dating a social worker, Terry. 

The book begins on Good Friday, 2011.  Honey has been attending a gig with Terry.  It is part of an Easter weekend folk festival that Terry has booked for them so that he can introduce her to his friends, but Honey decides to leave the evening performance early.  As she pulls into her drive, she is surprised to find Matt sitting on her porch.  She is even more perturbed when he tells her that he thinks he is being haunted by an old woman!  Honey is not sure whether her ex-husband is having a breakdown or whether someone is playing a malicious trick on him. What she does know is that she still cares deeply for the father of her children.  The situation becomes decidedly tense when Terry turns up unexpectedly and Honey steels herself for a complicated few days.  What she isn’t yet aware of, though, is the danger that lies ahead and that is about to threaten those she loves.

Carol Westron has written a compelling story that explores the complexities of relationships, bereavement and mental illness.  These tough issues are mitigated by the potential of love and friendship to heal and transform lives.  The story is told in the first person from Honey’s point of view.  She is such an endearing character that I felt immediately at ease in her company.  Her narration is sincere and imbues the story with warmth and, at times, wry humour.  Alongside this very personal tale, is the mystery surrounding Matt’s disturbing ghostly visitor.  As Matt’s mental and physical decline increases so does Honey’s concern for his wellbeing.  She believes the danger that threatens to harm her and her family is coming from the living not the dead, and she is determined to find out who is responsible. 

This Game of Ghosts is a thriller with a big heart.  The emotional drama being enacted within Honey’s extended family draws the reader in as she juggles past and present relationships that contend for her attention and affection.  Into this domestic narrative, the author has stealthily woven a tense and chilling mystery.  Friends and foes are difficult to distinguish as the novel moves towards an exciting and shocking conclusion. 

This is a super book and one I highly recommend.  More please!
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.
Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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