cover image Night Relics

Night Relics

James P. Blaylock. Ace Books, $18.95 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-441-00022-7

Blaylock's characters are subjected to the visitations of unquiet spirits and otherwise frightening events in this good but uneven first ghost-story offering from this award-winning fantasy novelist ( Lord Kelvin's Machine ). Seventy years ago in southwest California, Dr. Landry killed his wife's lover when he found them together; she then flung herself and her illegitimate son over a nearby cliff. Dr. Landry disappeared. Unaware of the bloody murder, architectural draftsman Peter Travers now lives in the Landrys' old cabin. When his ex-wife Amanda and their son David disappear just before the two are to go on a vacation to Hawaii, Travers's anguish is exacerbated by the appearance of ghostly apparitions, some of whom seem to be Amanda and David, while others are the figures of those involved in the earlier tragedy. Also plagued by spectral visitations are Lance Klein, a real estate developer with a shady past and Bernard Pomeroy, a deeply disturbed salesman with an eye for blackmail. While the tale is marked by good prose, believable dialogue and fine description, the plot soon wears thin. Travers's search for Amanda and David is almost totally eclipsed by the machinations of Pomeroy and his interplay with Klein, and the ghostly visions never produce the frisson of horror that this genre requires. ( Mar .)