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by Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine, October 2019
268 pages
ISBN: 1787631648

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Ava Collette has fled to Maine from Boston, renting a mansion that at first frightens and then welcomes her into its majestic site on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Soon, however, she begins to feel a presence watching and then speaking to her.

The house was built by sea captain Jeremiah Brodie one hundred fifty years ago. Ava learns that Brodie was a mysterious character, never married. But rumors suggest he had strange, perhaps illicit tastes. The moniker of the house is Brodie's Watch and he just possibly might still be watching, although he died when his ship went down in the Far East.

Ava enlists the help of the docent of the local museum and then a ghost hunter, Maeve, and her team to investigate the strange history of Brodie's Watch. Four women lived out their lives in the house, alone, almost hermits, and died there as well.

When Ava hears that the most recent tenant's body has washed up on the shore, and later finds that she was strangled, Ava becomes truly terrified. But at the same time, she has fallen for Brodie's ghost and is reluctant to leave the mansion.

Ava is also being pursued by the local doctor, who is not a believer in the supernatural. Unfortunately, his kisses do not stir her as the ghost's do and she is reluctant to get involved in a real life romance.

And did I forget to mention, Ava is tortured by a terrible guilt that we slowly learn some details of. Is she crazy? Is she dreaming all of this up? She drinks too much and the nights when she is drunk turn weird, and sometimes terrifying.

Gerritsen does a great job of titillating the reader as the suspense and terror build. Sexy scenes alternate with nights of horror. The reader is left wondering what in heaven or hell is happening to Ava. Finally she runs from the house, but upon returning to get her cat, Hannibal by name, she faces something she never could have even imagined.

Readers who enjoy a sexy melodrama filled with thrills and romance will devour THE SHAPE OF NIGHT in one sitting. I certainly did.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, October 2019

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