The folly is one of those architectural fancies Victorian-era landowners built to amuse themselves and their guests. The story begins in 1933. The host, never named, has bought this structure — considered haunted — as a separate parcel, the estate’s owner having suffered at the Depression’s onset, a reduction in fortune. The setting is the county of Somerset, for no particular reason…only because I let my characters choose who they want to be. At one time, the original owner tried to fix the drains, and instead misaligned them. A period of heavy rains has backed water into the cellarage. Because water attracts drifting spirits, the rains have carried all the ghosts of the region — those spirits who have not crossed — to the folly…where, because the folly’s interior features a wonderful folly-within-a-folly, a huge stucco chimneypiece festooned with colored glass marbles (glass, like water, is to the spirit world a medium), each ghost has been captured, one per marble. Because the circumstances of their deaths have left them angry and unreconciled (excepting the Celts, who are merely heathen, and must remain in limbo), the ghosts can be freed only by being given the chance during a sitting, to tell their stories, and find themselves forgiven.
Henry Calmacott, at his mother’s prodding, has come to the Folly to ask of the spirit callers whether he can search on for his brother Michael, missing for fifteen years. He does not want to believe Michael dead. Read all.
Wake is a customs agent with a secret life. He has always been said to be descended from a bastard of the Prince Regent (George IV). His resemblance his royal great-grandfather gives Inspector Samuels pause. Read all.
A mid-air collision between two planes brings three new spirits to the vicinity. Much to the surprise of the host and the guest, the spirits seem making themselves vocal, though these cannot have been captured within the Folly’s marble-decorated chimneypiece. One is the playful and adulterous Lady Gimple; one, the husband of the Spiritualist fellowship’s president, Mrs. Tattersby…and one his most vengeful rival in love. Read all.
The Legend of the Pale Knight
The guest’s work, dull and academic to many of his friends, has been to locate the St. Crispin’s chapel of the early medieval period, not the one popularly believed to be that referred to by the half-mythical saint, Godfrey. The Pale Knight has been said to appear always before some great tragic event, but sightings attested to by living witnesses are rare, and of those, readily debunked. Yet, when the guest had been prepared to sign off on the authenticity of this particular spectre, he learns it has been there, dutifully rising to give warning, all along. Read all.
The German Spy
Krug, a player in the spy game, has managed (not knowing this himself) to connect peripherally to the Tattersby tragedy. He lies undiscovered in his rooms, waiting for a rendezvous that will not occur. Atherleigh, Simon’s older brother had been a hunted man. Agnes, the chemist’s partner in free love, mother of his heir, has also been brought to bay….by a glass-eyed man, whose quarry is human. Read all.
Danger rises. The spirit-seekers, self-possessed (this always preferrable) when dealing with the dead, are rattled by the assassin Falco. Those who hired him have failed to estimate him to his own valuation. And Falco, veteran of WWI’s atrocities, knows it, that he cannot alter this — that what the living are meant to have, a heart, is dead within him, though among the living he walks. He will, by stacking bodies, make the great men who begin wars hear him. So he intends.
Our heroes hope for a different outcome. Read all.