Irish novelist Tana French’s second novel begins…
“Some nights, if I’m sleeping on my own, I still dream about Whitethorn House. In the dream it’s always spring, cool fine light with a late afternoon haze. I climb the worn stone steps and knock on the door–that great brass knocker, going black with age and heavy enough to startle you every time–and an old woman with an apron and a deft, uncompromising face lets me in. Then she hangs the big rusted key back on her belt and walks away down the drive, under the falling cherry blossom, and I close the door behind her.
The house is always empty. The bedrooms are bare and bright, only my footsteps echoing off the floorboards, circling up through the sun and the dust motes to the high ceilings. Smell of wild hyacinths, drifting through the wide-open windows, and of beeswax polish. Chips of white paint flaking off the window sashes and a tendril of ivy swaying in over the sill. Wood doves, lazy somewhere outside.
In the sitting room the piano is open, wood glowing chestnut and almost too bright to look at in the bars of sun, the breeze stirring the yellowed sheet music like a finger. The table is laid ready for us, five settings–the bone-china plates and the long-stemmed wineglasses, fresh-cut honeysuckle trailing from a crystal bowl–but the silverware has gone dim with tarnish and the heavy damask napkins are filled with dust…
Somewhere in the house, faint as a fingernail-flick at the edge of my hearing, there are sounds: a scuffle, whispers. It almost stops my heart. The others aren’t gone, I got it all wrong somehow. They’re only hiding; they’re still here, for ever and ever.”
author: Tana French (learn more at her website)
original language: English
publication date (UK): 2008
Jane is a retired accountant and one-time used bookseller with a particular fondness for Irish crime and mystery novels who now lives in Florida. She is known around the book-ish parts of the internet as Janebbooks; you can refer to her Good Reads profile for her reviews and reading list.