cover image Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte’s Story

Laura Benedict. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60598-878-8

Set in 1957 in southern Virginia, Benedict’s suspenseful, atmospheric follow-up to 2014’s Bliss House finds housewife Charlotte Bliss devastated by the death of her four-year-old daughter. At the family mansion, Charlotte sees the ghost of her mother-in-law, Olivia, also recently deceased, who gradually reveals disturbing secrets about Bliss House, her own past, and Charlotte’s husband, Press. When she tries to flee with their toddler son, Charlotte discovers that Press won’t let her go. Cut off from family, trapped in a house of ghosts, and unable to trust anyone in nearby Old Gate, she realizes Olivia may be her only ally. Expertly paced revelations help build a sense of encroaching horror, though readers new to the series may feel they’re missing important background. Sexual violence runs throughout, and while Benedict avoids graphic detail, scenes of rape, sadism, and an orgy will likely trouble some readers. Others, however, will find this a satisfyingly creepy tale for a rainy night. Agent: Susan Raihofer, David Black Agency. (Oct.)