Travel to New Hampshire in the 1970s in Michael Clark’s chilling ghost story, The Patience of a Dead Man.
In The Patience of a Dead Man, it’s 1971 and after a messy divorce, Tim Russell wants a fresh start. His construction business suffered hugely after the divorce, so he decides to buy a house to renovate and sell on. He picks out a farm in Sanborne, New Hampshire, that has a large house with a barn and 23,000 acres of land. Originally built in 1860, the house has been empty for the past three years. He gets to work, and immediately notices that things aren’t what they seem.
The story begins with the previous owners, Henry and Annette Smith in 1965, before moving forwards to the 1970s. Straight away, I was hooked — Michael builds the atmosphere and tension perfectly. I was so tense every time someone set foot in the house!
I really liked the main characters, Tim and Holly — though I did spend several moments in the book wishing they would concentrate on the issue at hand, rather than each other! Tim finds several journals about the ghosts written by Annette, and it takes a little while for them to start reading them. (Given how important the ghost problem is, you’d think they’d read them with a little more urgency!)
The ghosts themselves are terrifying. Tim’s encounters while his daughters come to stay are especially terrifying — I really felt his horror and worry for the young girls. I also thought that the ghosts were portrayed well. The point of view occasionally changes to show their thoughts and I thought that was a nice touch. They are cold, calculating and clever.
Ghost physics are still a bit confusing, though — they can restrain people, for example, but not write things down? I guess these things don’t have to be consistent, but it would be great to learn more in the next book.
I love a good ghost story, and this is a great one. I read this in one sitting, even attempting to cook one-handed (though I do not recommend this!). The ending had me screaming at the page! My copy also had a teaser for book two, Dead Woman Scorned, which was equally terrifying. So of course I had to get it straight away!
The blurb for The Patience of a Dead Man
He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.
Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?
Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based on. The bats of the barn really circled the rafters all day and there actually was a man-made grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.
The Patience of a Dead Man is his first novel. Dead Woman Scorned is his second. More to come.