cover image The Silence

The Silence

Sarah Rayne. Severn, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8248-6

Rayne continues to mix eerie hauntings and witty protagonists in her enjoyable third neogothic mystery (after The Sin Eater) starring widowed antiques dealer Nell West and her paramour, university professor and children’s book author Michael Flint. When Nell is asked by the West family to evaluate isolated Stilter House, she and her young daughter, Beth, discover mysterious piano noises and a sordid history. Nell’s late husband, Brad, spent much of his youth at Stilter House, and may have encountered the supernatural while he was there. Meanwhile, Michael gets a phone call from one of Brad’s relatives suggesting that something is wrong, and he follows Nell to the country. Documents and letters about the possibly deranged builder Samuel Burlap, who was involved with the West family in the early 1900s, drive a good part of the novel. Rayne continues to update the classic haunted house story in ways that are faithful to the genre’s roots while centering the action on a contemporary couple whose growth ably moves the series forward. (June)