Saturday, March 07, 2015

Gothic Thriller: THE SEEKER, R. B. Chesterton (Carolyn Haines)

R. B. Chesterton is one of many pen names for Carolyn Haines -- and the author says she uses this one to probe the dark side of crime. THE SEEKER came out in 2014, and the softcover became available from Pegasus Crime a couple of weeks ago. So if you haven't tried this author under her noir-ish nom de plume yet, here's a good opportunity.

THE SEEKER is not just dark -- it's creepy. Aine Cahill's graduate studies at Boston's Brandeis University have taken her in two deliberately opposite directions: away from her Irish immigrant family and its "curse" that's migrated with the family to the South, erupting in Kentucky whiskey-running followed by a modern specialty in OxyContin ("hillbilly heroin"); and toward her great-great-great-great aunt Bonnie Cahill, who may have been Henry David Thoreau's lover during his retreat at Walden Pond.

But the further Aine reaches in on-site research in Massachusetts, the more strongly she finds her stay by Thoreau's pond haunted, by terrifying shreds of a past that she never dreamed of when she figured she'd track an unknown literary love affair. Two suitors also pursue her -- and even as she yields to the promised attention, a particularly nasty haunting occupies the same space and time:
No matter that Mischa was not in the cabin. She was in my head, and I had no clue how to exorcise her. Tomorrow, though, I would explore that option. There were plenty of Catholic churches in Concord, and through I'd left the pomp and ritual of the church far behind me, I knew where to find a priest.

I drifted into sleep, and found myself floating ... Struggle as I might, I couldn't break the thrall of the whale.

When no land was visible on the horizon, the whale surfaced. One blurry eye pinned me, and a rush of red blood shot from its blowhole. "You've met your destiny, Aine Cahill."
Think Nathaniel Hawthorne crossed with Steven King, and you're close to what R. B. Chesterton provides here. Keep the lights on, and the doors locked, while you read.

1 comment:

Beth Kanell said...

Author R. B. Chesterton (Carolyn Haines) wrote this to us today:

Writing is such a cray business. The whole story came from the image of the grandmother with the birthmark. And my friend, Kristine Rolofson, who is also a writer, took me on a tour of the New England area several years back. We went to Walden Pond and some of the whaling towns. I hated the idea of the whaling, but the history got under my skin and though that is only a bit of back story, it was so important in creating the tale.