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Published by Macmillan, 3
October 2019. ISBN: 976-1-5098-1623-1 (HB)
This is the second in the series of novels by this author,
set in the Sussex village of Cold Hill. It is a horror novel in the tradition
of Stephen King (but set in the English countryside as opposed to American
suburbia) rather than a traditional crime novel, and supernatural elements
eighteenth century mansion, Cold Hill House which featured in the earlier title
The House on Cold Hill, has been
destroyed by fire and its remains razed to the ground. In its place will be a brand-new
estate of modern houses, planned to provide all the people of today require
from their homes. So far only two houses have been built and it is one of those
that the thoroughly modern young couple, Jason and Emily Danes, plan to be
their ‘forever home’. Jason is an artist, specialising in portraits of clients’
pets, particularly dogs whose more lovable aspects he emphasises; he is on the
verge of considerable commercial success. Emily runs a commercial catering
business which is also highly successful and forms the bedrock of her husband’s
more creative ventures. Their house has every modern convenience and then some,
as the highly persuasive estate agent who had offered them every inducement to
buy the house had enthusiastically pointed out. Central to the house’s
ultra-efficient functioning is a command box which enables voice control of all
the electronic functions which contribute to the requirements of modern living.
But Jason and Emily
are not the first couple to move into one of the Cold Hill Park houses.
Preceding them by a couple of months is another couple, Maurice and Claudette
Penze-Weedell, and they are quite different to Jason and Emily. They are
elderly and highly conventional in a rather old-fashioned, not to say,
stereotypical, way, reminiscent of the couple in the 1990s sitcom, Keeping Up Appearance in which Patricia Routledge played the
lower-middle class Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced ‘bouquet’) with social
aspirations and Clive Swift her henpecked husband. Claudette also has social
aspirations; although she does not have quite Hyacinth’s ability with one-liner
putdowns, the couple do provide a certain amount of comic relief. Jason and
Emily mock the Penze-Weedells behind their backs who in their turn, while they
court the young and rather more glamorous couple, also disapprove of them.
But, right from the
beginning, it is apparent that things are going wrong. There are heavy footsteps
in the loft of the Danes’s house, which Jason uses as a studio, but no-one is
there; appliances supposedly controlled by the command box switch themselves on
and off seemingly at whim, people appear who are already dead or who never
existed. And while construction of the rest of the estate continues at full
tilt a man dies in an accident, apparently beheaded by a digger. And an evil
old man, Albert Fears, whom we first meet in the village pub, is never far from
the scene. ‘You’ll never leave,’ he warns Jason and Emily. ‘No-one ever has.’
Is he perhaps the modern-day equivalent of the mediaeval image of a skeleton
with a scythe, Death?
Peter Jameswas educated at Charterhouse and then at film school.
He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screen writer and
film producer, before returning to England. His multiple award-winning, Sunday
Times Top Ten bestselling novels have been translated into thirty-three
languages. His writings reflect his deep interest in medicine, science and the
world of the police. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant
of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He also
co-created the hit Channel 4 series Bedsitcom, which was nominated for a Rose
d'Or. Peter James won the Krimi-Blitz 2005 Crime Writer of the Year Award in
Germany, and Dead Simple won both the 2006 Prix Polar International
award and the 2007 Prix Cœur Noir award in France. He divides his time between
his homes in Notting Hill in London and Sussex.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.