3.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

In Belfast in 1914, there is an added interest in spiritualism again. More people than ever are attending seances again, with the hope of getting back in contact with loved ones who have since departed. William Crawford Jackson’s wife, Elizabeth, is one of those from high society who has a particular interest in this, hoping to get back into contact with her brother who was lost on the Titanic two years before.

He had discovered this by accident when he found a letter from the maid who has just left and he decides to follow Elizabeth to see where she is going. He sees her disappear into a house and notices a figure in the upstairs window looking down on him. It turns out that this is the famed medium, Kathleen Goligher. Jackson who is a Professor of Engineering is not particularly happy about this. He is very sceptical that it is real and dissuades Elizabeth from going to them again.

Money is tight in the house and his new textbook that the publisher thought would do well has sold poorly. He meets with a man at a party who persuades him to undertake some scientific research into mediums. His investigations become famous and he becomes known as the Spirit Engineer. However, will he prove one way or the other if these are genuine contacts with those now dead or just fraud…

I am not a great reader of Gothic melodramas, there is nothing wrong with them per se, it is just not my sort of thing, but I quite liked this. It is based on real events and people that West has used to create this story, adding to and embellishing the facts with a narrative that flows really well. The main character, William Crawford Jackson, is not particularly likeable, suffering as much from his own internal demons and vanity as he does from external pressure from society at that time. I don’t mind unlikeable characters in books as it makes for a more interesting story and it works in this book as the plot builds towards the end.

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