Maddy Clare has been haunting the barn at Falmouth House for the past seven years. Maddy doesn’t like men, and becomes very angry and destructive when one ventures near. Mrs. Clare, owner of Falmouth House, is now frail and old. Along her housekeeper, Mrs. McCready, both just want to see her gone for good. But Maddy isn’t ready to go, she wants revenge.
Alistair Gellis and his assistant, Matthew Ryder are seasoned ghost hunters, but are also shell-shocked war veterans fighting inner demons/ghosts of their own. Maddy doesn’t take kindly to men entering her barn, which means Alistair must find a girl to help them document and rid Falthom House of its destructive ghost. Sarah Piper, living a lonely existence in London, is called by her temp agency asking if she would take an unlikely assignment. Does she dare set aside her fears and apprehension and take it?
Falmouth House is located in the small town of Waringstoke. Everyone knows one another, and there seems to be much they wish to keep hidden. Especially the mystery surrounding the servant girl, Maddy Clare. Many believe in the ghost of Maddy, but they are also most unwilling to part with any real information to help solve the mystery surrounding Maddy Clare, her suicide and her haunting.
It so turns out that Sarah Piper is quite receptive to ghosts. Maddy immediately claims Sarah and with every presence of Maddy, Sarah is overcome with vivid images and revelations. Maddy begins to control Sarah and gives her an assignment as well.
Find them. There are 3 of them. Find where I am buried.
Therefore, with the help and knowledge coming through Sarah, her, Alistair and Matthew set out on solving a mystery Waringstoke is reluctant to reveal, and to help calm Maddy and give her peace to move on.
I was very, very intrigued by this book, first because of the beautiful cover, and as I had read a quick synopsis someone had posted that said it was like “Maisie Dobbs, Ghostwhisperer”. And whomever posted that was bang on! Throw in a touch of Hitchcock for good measure (think Birds) (lots of birds!), and you have a darn good mystery with the lead female sleuth indeed very much like Maisie Dobbs. It takes place in the same time period, post-WWI, and Sarah finds herself all in as ghost hunter/ ghost whisperer.
This was a very quick read, I read it in under 3 days, it had my full attention for much of it, as it was spooky at times, not too scary, but with just the right amount of edge & intrigue – Maddy is a very angry ghost filled with hatred and intent on destroying all for what these men did to her. But I’m taking a half star off for some of the gratutitous sex scenes thrown in that I thought were unnecessary. There were only very few really, but I felt some of the detail was too much and detracted from the characters and the time (perhaps I’m too wistful about the era?). I’m definitely hoping we see more of Sarah Piper in the future though!
Simone St. James’ website can be found here.
Alternative reviews of The Haunting of Maddy Clare can be read from Agnes Mack’s Books, The Historical Novel Society and from The Book of Secrets.
Not the normal book I would have picked up on my own but you’ve got my intrigued!
It’s her first novel, so it’s not without some flaws, truthfully, but Sarah Piper and the whole ghost whisperer thing post WWI is pretty cool and I hope we hear more from her!