Each of his titles pushes a different genre button for me. I chose The House on the Moor because I'd read anything about anything on a moor, and because Matt Cowan blogged about it. (I didn't read Matt's post until this one was written, but our motivations in choosing this novel are similar).
What buttons does The House on the Moor push (other than the moor button)?
✔Old dark house
✔ Strange death in basement
✔ Forbidden book (The Twelve Concordances of the Red Serpent)
✔ Occult dabbling by middle class male dilettante looking for their next sensation
✔ A hunched figure peripherally observed looking in at windows.
✔ A scuttling Jamesian something in the rafters of a large library
The House on the Moor is also a story about a couple trying to save a frozen marriage.
John Fraser has brought his wife Carole for a weekend at the house on the moor to interview owner David Blacklaw.
John is writing the biography of his grandfather, Hugh Fraser. Blacklaw and grandfather Fraser were wild lads in the 1950s: amateur explorers and mountaineers made famous by the books and photos they created to celebrate their exploits. Their partnership ended when Fraser died under mysterious circumstances.
John has come to the right place to find out how his grandfather died. That final exploit is recorded on audio tapes and photos in Blacklaw's archive.
Carole starts out thinking the topic and the visit are absurd. But. For the first time in a long time, she takes an interest.
As Blacklaw observes:
....When you came here on Friday it seemed you were close to ripping each other's throats out. You were tense, moody and irritable—just like every other city dweller I've ever met. Now look at you. Admit it—you're happy. You're relaxed, even despite the experiences, real or imagined, of the weekend." John had to admit that the old man had a point. He hadn't felt so alive for a long time—and he hadn't even realized he was still holding Carole's hand, and had her head rested on his shoulder....
There are plenty of chills and strange events for a book of only 100 pages.
14 October 2018