The Dead House

Billy O’Callaghan. Arcade, $24.99 (216p) ISBN 978-1-62872-913-9
An unspecified something that has just occurred prompts retired artists’ agent Michael Simmons, the English narrator of Irish author O’Callaghan’s chilling, beautifully written first novel, to tell a story he has tried to forget. Flash back nine years to a housewarming party hosted by painter Maggie Turner, a client of Michael’s, who has recently bought and fixed up, with his financial assistance, a rundown cottage on the west coast of Ireland. Maggie has invited Michael and two other friends to visit for several days. One evening at the beach, Michael spots a “flicker of whiteness” that he thinks might be a woman, an image that takes on sinister overtones after he learns of a grim bit of local history. O’Callaghan combines his gift at describing settings (“the casual filthy-white scatter of sheep flecking the distance, the tumbling ground a desperation of greenery, thick as pond-scum in parts”) with subtle suggestions that something unnatural is going on. Fans of psychological thrillers with a ghostly undercurrent will be richly rewarded. Agent: Pamela Malpas, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency (Ireland). (May)

Correction: An earlier version of this review listed an incorrect literary agent.

Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-62872-914-6
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-948924-56-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5436-8024-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5436-8025-6
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