One foggy evening, the most famous crime specialists in the world meet in an exclusive club, their minds on mystery. On the agenda, two tantalizing, unsolved cases of ghostly terror.
New York Times bestselling author and unsurpassed mater of suspense Barbara Michaels delivers a fireside page-turner in the grand tradition with her latest book, Other Worlds.
The smoky room glows with a mix of cigars, brandy, and genius. Those present include Harry Houdini, king of illusion; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, father of the modern detective novel; Dr. Nandor Fodor, a psychoanalyst of international acclaim; and an elegant writer who can rival them all with her sleuthing talent.
These maters of mystery put their minds to a pair of gripping storiesof families beset by poltergeistly pranks and bewitched by inexplicable horrors. Gripping puzzles, yes, but the terror is all too vicious and all too real.
In the hallows of Tennessee, a family is threatened by a dire spirit whose predictions of despair and death come frighteningly true.
In a small Connecticut town, a newly married widow and her children move into her second husband's home to find their lives possessed by an unimaginable demon.
For the gathering at the club, a brilliant battle of wits is at hand. Were these villains phantoms from beyond or evildoers of flesh and blood? Each expert has a theory. Which of them is correct?
Whether writing as Barbara Michaels or Elizabeth Peters, this author is a master chef crafting richly atmospheric, suspense-filled delights. Other Worlds is an up-all-nighter, guaranteed to still haunt in the morninga tale as chilling by daylight as it is by darkness.
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Barbara Michaels (who also writes as Mystery Grandmaster Elizabeth Peters) is known for cozy romantic suspense, but Other Worlds is indeed another world of fiction for her. Set "outside time and space, in the realm of the imagination," the book is an all-star team meeting among several of the most famous dabblers in the world of the occult. These include American magician Harry Houdini, Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, Nandor Fodor (former director of the International Institute for Psychical Research), Frank Podmore of the Society for Psychical Research, and a few other guests over two nights. Michaels establishes the purpose of their gathering in a brief opening passage, an exchange between Doyle and Podmore: "During our evenings together we enjoy a busman's holiday, applying our combined expertise to the investigation of famous cases that have never been satisfactorily explained. Sometimes we agree on a solution; more often we agree to disagree." On the two evening meetings recorded in this volume, the group addresses two ghost tales. The first narrative is of the Bell Witch, a ghost that haunted the Bell family for several years in 19th-century Tennessee. The second details the 1850 invasion of the Phelps family of Stratford, Connecticut, by demonic forces. In both cases, the story is followed by the commentaries of the guests, as each of them tries to explain away or justify the occult elements.
The collection has merit as a diversion for fans of classic ghost tales, and it has much the flavor of Poe and Hawthorne's stories of the supernatural. But, ultimately, the two narratives do not hold up well in their frame. Since, from the start, Michaels declares that the meetings among Houdini et al. are to be regarded as imaginary, much of the suspense is lost; then, the format (a story followed by analysis and criticism) undermines the suspense further as the reader witnesses the plot being pulled apart and rewritten by her various narrators. Fans of Michaels's other work may be disappointed by the lack of romance here, too (though Betsy Bell's ill-fated first love is a centerpiece of the Bell Witch tale). Nonetheless, Michaels's experiment in ghost narratives is an interesting one, and it is a pleasure to watch her assume the voices of these famous male figures in their antiquated, smoke-filled, gentleman's club of dreams. --Patrick O'KelleyAbout the Author:
Barbara Michaels is the award-winning author of more than 20 novels, including six New York Times bestsellers. She has a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Chicago and lives in Frederick, MD.
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