cover image The Bell Tower

The Bell Tower

Sarah Rayne. Severn, $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8559-3

In Rayne's middling sixth Haunted House mystery (after 2015's Deadlight Hall), Oxford professor Michael Flint and antiques dealer Nell West attend the revival of a festival known as St. Benedict's Revels in the Dorset village of Rede Abbas. All that is left of the old Benedictine monastery in Rede Abbas is the crumbling bell tower gradually being reclaimed by the sea. Local historian Gerald Orchard provides some history and some legends about the Glaum family, who donated the massive bell, and the church's suppression under Cromwell in the 1540s. At the heart of the tale is a mysterious, long-lost piece of music, "Thaisa's Song." Only villager Maeve Eynon knows the power of the song and some of its history from an old book retrieved from the ruins. Flint and West, who become intrigued by a fragment of music and a journal left by a monk in the 19th century, may become modern victims of an ancient wrong, but neither the mystery nor the ghost story generates much tension. (Feb.)