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The House That Jack Built

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1996.

Craig Bellman is a rich, powerful lawyer who has left New York for the countryside after a horrifically mugging leaves him with only one testicle. Recovering from the incident is taking him some time, but when he sees the isolated, derelict mansion known as Valhalla, his old confidence seems to be returning. His wife Effie hates the place, but getting her husband back is so important to her that she goes along with buying and renovating the property. But the building was built in a very special way by the twisted gambler Jack Belias, and Effie starts to believe that Belias' personality is being reborn in the body of her husband.

The Manitou utilised the concept of ancient evil being resurrected into another body in another time; The Walkers dealt with supernatural ways of leaving a locked room. Closer in theme, Guy Smith's The Wood dealt with the strange effects of time. The House that Jack Built does all these, but in very different ways and making the most of Masterton's maturity and experience as a writer. Thus we have numerous strands of plot, which are woven with panache, and we have characters who are people we care about, even when they're the bad guys. And we have prose so grabbing that we can't put down the book. Four hundred page novels are not commonly so all involving as to become one session reads, but Graham Masterton is churning them out at a clip. Maybe he will follow the example of Jack Belias, and try to beat eternity in some way or other, so that we can benefit from an unending lifetime of novels as good as this one.


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