“The House on Cold Hill” by Peter James starts with a shocking incident involving “THE” house. The storyline moves on, but the remnants of the event remain for readers. This is the tale of house flipping gone wrong, every remodeling nightmare. The Harcourt family moves into a house they be paradise for the three of them. The house needed extensive remodeling, but it had lots of potential. The Harcourts embark down a path that crosses the line between the real and the surreal. Would they have bought the house if they had known it came with a ghost?
James describes in detail the ordinary lives of ordinary people in what soon becomes an extra ordinary situation. Readers get to know the Harcourts, they become real; they become friends. They have everyday problems, slow internet, things break, relatable problems, ones everyone can understand. They have work, school, and chores; they sent text messages and use Facetime; they update all their technology. They are as relatable as folks who live next door, although after what happens, readers are certainly glad not to be living next door.
James paints a vivid picture of the house and the magnificence that it once had; the walls are ochre, not tan or brown or even mustard. The pace is slow, deliberate, and yet evokes mystery and suspense. Little events build the intensity systematically, page by page, always reminding readers of that secret, that mystery that envelops the house.
“The House on Cold Hill” takes readers on a wild ride down a long path along with the characters. There are many parameters, many options, and many possibilities with “THE” house. They should just pack up and leave, but they have been warned: “No one leaves your house. They all stay.” In the end, they all do, in one way or the other.