“Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House, with its acres of land, as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.
Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime. Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them…”
As well as his long-running series of crime novels featuring main character Roy Grace – the latest, eleventh, installment being “You Are Dead”, Brighton based author Peter James has penned a good number of other books, the most recent of which was published in October 2015 – “The House On Cold Hill”.
This is a supernatural ghost story based almost entirely at the titular property situated a few miles outside of Brighton. After a short and shocking opening chapter we meet the Harcourts – Ollie designs websites from home, his wife Caro is a solicitor and they have a twelve year old daughter, Jade.
Shortly after moving into their new home two things start to happen. Firstly, as can often be the case with older houses, problems begin to surface with the actual fabric of the building – water leaks, ceilings falling in, etc. The second, presumably less common problem, is that all three begin to see ghostly figures around the house.
I did feel at points that the story reminded me of one I had previously read, possibly in James’ short story collection “A Twist Of The Knife” from 2014, but I haven’t been able to verify that so it could just be the general familiarity of the haunted house scenario.
Overall this was a good, engrossing read, and an enjoyable tale. There were some novel ideas and some lovely twists too. On the downside, I would have to say that some of the plot developments were fairly predictable and setting practically all the action within the house and grounds meant that a lot of characters were more peripheral than they might have been.
The biggest problem, for me, however was the ending of the story which left too many questions unanswered and felt almost a little rushed. Don’t get me wrong, although I felt that it just didn’t reach the quality of the Roy Grace series, this is still a good book and a worthwhile read…