They say a painting can have a life of its own…
In the case of Ghosts in the Mind by Henry Sebastian Hubert, that's more than just an expression. This painting is reputed to come to life—and to bring death. The artist was a friend of Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, joining them in Switzerland during 1816, "the year without a summer." That was when they all explored themes of horror and depravity in their art….
Now, almost two hundred years later, the painting appears in New Orleans. Wherever it goes, death seems to follow.
Danielle Cafferty and Michael Quinn, occasional partners in solving crime, are quickly drawn into the case. They begin to make connections between that summer in Switzerland and this spring in Louisiana. Danni, the owner of an eccentric antiques shop, and Quinn, a private detective, have discovered that they have separate but complementary talents when it comes to investigating unusual situations.
Trying to blend their personal relationship with the professional lives they've stumbled into, they learn how much they need each other. Especially as they confront this work of art—and evil. The people in the portrait might be dead, but something seems to wake them and free them to commit bloody crimes. Cafferty and Quinn must discover what that is. And they have to destroy it—before it destroys them.Hardcover, 336 pages
Three stars: A chilling ghostly murder mystery.
Danni decides to stop by the neighboring art gallery owned by her good friend, Niles. Niles is excited about his new shipment of 100 giclee prints, they are reproductions of a mysterious painting from the 1800s called Ghosts of the Mind. The painting was created by an artist, Hubert, who spent a summer with Lord Byron and Mary Shelley. His painting was part of the ghostly contest that produced Frankenstein. Danni learns that someone in New Orleans purchased the original. Outside the shop, Danni comes face to face with Quinn, who just returned from Texas. Quinn is called back to town because of a set of gruesome murders in the city. The murders are strangely suspicious and inexplicable. More murders follow, and Danni and Quinn begin to believe that the killings are somehow connected to the painting. Can a painting be possessed by evil?
What I Liked:
- This is my first venture with Heather Graham. Her book was sinister and creepy with a frightening demonic painting. I liked the ghostly atmosphere, the characters and the mystery.
- I appreciated that I was able to jump into this series with the second book and not feel lost. Of course by not reading the first book, I missed out on the development of some of the core relationships, such as the romance between Danni and Quinn, and the friendships formed with Billie and Bo Ray. Still the author provided plenty of details and information to fill in the gaps so I was never lost. After reading this one, I would definitely like to go back and read the first book in the series to learn more. This is a book that can certainly be read as a stand alone.
- I enjoyed all the characters. Quinn and Danni are the main characters and they are romantically involved. Quinn is a police detective who survived a near death experience which left him with some interesting abilities. Danni settles in New Orleans after the death of her father, and she is beginning to understand the paranormal that her father dabbled in throughout his life. Danni inexplicably from time to time engages in sleep painting, which is interesting and a bit creepy. I absolutely adored Wolf, their dog. He is intelligent, loyal and the best companion one could ask for.
- This book features a strong cast of secondary characters from Billie the aging Scotsman whom Danni inherits from her father. Billie is a loyal employee and friend. Bo Ray is a recovering alcoholic whom Danni and Quinn rescued. He now works in Danni's shop. Add in Father Ryan a catholic priest, Natasha, a voodoo priestess, Hubert a medical examiner and descendant of the artist who painted the painting, as well as an opinionated, wealthy and stubborn widow, Hattie, and you have a strong cast of characters who work together to solve a ghastly mystery. I liked each and every one of these characters and I loved watching them come together.
- The ghost/ murder mystery was definitely different and very creepy. The idea that a sinister painting could be possessed by evil was chilling. I liked that I was unable to pinpoint the person behind the killings, and that I was constantly guessing. Everything was resolved at the end with no lingering questions so this could definitely work as a stand alone.
And The Not So Much:
- Early on, it was indicated that Quinn possessed some type of supernatural ability to sense spirits? I am not completely sure, and I was expecting for him to at some point utilize these unique talents, but he never does. I wanted to know more about his ability, and I thought it was a bit strange that he never tapped into it.
- The group ends up making two trips to Switzerland to visit the castle where the painting was created. The castle seemed to be steeped in horror and evil, and for the life of me, I could not figure out why the group would want to stay there. The author spends a great deal of time creating a ghostly atmosphere, and then it just kind of fizzles out. I was expecting more.
- When you finally get to the end, there is a big info dump the final pages. The unmasked villain steps forward threatening to kill one of the main characters, and of course, he waves his gun around and gives the long winded this is why and how I did it speech, which I thought was a bit trite. There was a lot to take in the final pages, and I am not sure that everything works. I was left scratching my head wondering how he knew how to activate the painting, it didn't seem like it was common knowledge.
- After the villain is apprehended, the book ends rather abruptly and with a line that I thought was a bit cheesy. There wasn't a cliffhanger, but I would have liked a stronger resolution.
Waking the Dead was a thrilling, chilling, atmospheric ghost tale that provides plenty of creepy moments. This book has a strong cast of characters and a solid mystery. If you are a fan of Ms. Graham, I am sure you will enjoy this book. I found it to be an entertaining read, and I won't hesitate to pick up another book this author in the future.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.