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by Deborah Grabien
St Martin's Minotaur, October 2005
256 pages
ISBN: 0312333897

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Deborah Grabien has a unique idea for a series; a folk singer and his psychic girlfriend who keep stumbling over the ghosts of folksongs past. It sounds trite to put it that way, but MATTY GROVES is a decently horror-tinged thriller.

When the band members of Broomfield Hill accept the high-paying, high-status gig at the Callowen Arts Festival, they knew that the ancestral hall was the inspiration for the song Matty Groves. But they didn't think there was much danger to be had from the ghosts of centuries-old lovers, even if they had been caught and killed by a jealous husband. The only spook known to walk the halls was the wife, and she was more of a recording than a ghost.

To their dismay, something dark and cruel also walks the halls, something that fixates on the resemblance of their flautist to the murdered woman.

Realizing that the song lyrics were false from beginning to end, the Leight-Arnold family and the Broomfield band members must try to find out what really happened when the lord came upon Matty and his lady all those centuries ago. The truth will set free not only the ghosts of the past, but also the presently haunted people.

This is the third of the Ringan mysteries but readable as a starting point. There are occasional references to previous adventures, but nothing that would spoil understanding of this plot. American readers also need to know that this is told entirely in the UK vernacular; characters "read their post" and so on.

I enjoyed MATTY GROVES both as a fan of folk music and of supernatural books. I liked the characters and appreciated that, while the song lyrics provided the inspiration, they did not also provide a tidy solution. Watching Ringan and Penny unravel the coldest of cold cases is the main interest of the plot.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, October 2005

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