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British author Westall wrote The Machine Gunners and other prize novels for young readers that appeal equally to adults. Conjured up here are seven haunting tales spiced by his wry humor and based on characters so real that they compel belief in the eldritch events described. The narrator of all of the stories is Geoff Ashden, a dealer in antiques since the end of WW II, when he was an RAF squadron leader. Geoff, thinking of those times long past, is amazed to chance upon "The Dumble dore," a cafe supposedly closed 16 years earlier. There, British and Yank pilots had gathered as comrades and courted the pretty bar maid, Charlene, although she loved only her American hero, Tex. The end of the romance makes the story an admirable shocker, flawed only because Westall places the Fall River legend in the 1920s: Lizzie Borden "took her axe" in 1892. Overall, the collection rates high marks for originality and variety. There are tales of a malign spirit in a church, of another in Geoff's own house, and more: the worst of the haunts escaping from the antiques left by their evil owners to menace the living.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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