A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.
Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it's by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter—but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.
Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help—until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what's happened to the young couple...even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police—as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism—Cassie can't help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family's dark curse destroys everything in its path?
Painter Cassie Mitchell, the 37-year-old narrator of this enjoyable if melodramatic paranormal mystery from Marion (The Fool's Truth), is soon to be divorced, childless, alone, and on the precipice of homelessness. What money she earns from her portraits is not enough to save her beloved, "staggeringly" mortgaged ancestral home, Battersea Bluffs, outside Whale Rock, Mass., on Cape Cod. Into her world come enigmatic Vince and Ashley Jacobson, who offer to help around the house in exchange for room and board. She develops a bond with the couple and is shocked when, a few months later, her young tenants set off for a day out and fail to return. Angry at the local sheriff's seeming indifference to their disappearance, Cassie calls the FBI, only to discover that "according to the U.S. government," the Jacobsons don't exist. The book benefits from a fine cast of well-rounded characters and some intriguing whiffs of ghostly presences. Though the subtitle suggests that this is a series launch, the neat ending doesn't leave much room to develop Cassie's story.