Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review: 'Claire's House' by Linda Gerald

Florida author Linda Heavner Gerald has retired from her medical background and is living and writing along the Gulf of Mexico. She has already established a solid reputation as a writer of eight mystery thrillers, winning awards both in this country and abroad. Linda’s keen eye for evil in her books is matched by her conviction that ‘regardless of our actions, God is always ready to welcome us back with forgiveness.’ Rather than simply titillate her readers with superbly terrifying stories and psychological drama she offers a bit of a rainbow at the end – a sense of hope or encouragement for the characters of her books.

Linda’s ability to paint a setting for a novel grows with each of her books. In this wonderfully strange story she manages to capture the allure and the mystery of Louisiana (the site of the title Claire’s House) in her opening paragraphs – ‘Deep in a haunting bayou of Louisiana, a strange plot of enchanting land exists. Beautiful, green grass covers a square plot of two acres. The Gautier family owned two hundred and twenty acres of the land that encompassed this unique piece of earth. Surrounded by massive swamps, the savageness of the area abounds in the folklore from earlier generations concerning this isolated place. Alligators roam as well as large lizards and snakes. Still, the square of land is lovely to behold. A magnetism exists here unlike any other land in Louisiana or the world. Christophe and Claire Gautier inherited it from Christophe’s Cajun uncle, Louie. Claire felt hesitant even to consider building a home on such a raw piece of land, but her husband convinced her that it would make a gorgeous destination from their Paris mansion.’ Prepared for mystery that touches on paranormal the reader steps though this atmosphere with both trepidation and excitement and of course, rewards at the ending.

The plot is well condensed by Linda’s synopsis: ‘Local folklore in the bayous of Louisiana states that Claire’s House once stood on a special plot of land. Many men perished trying to own it. The Gautier family obtained the cherished place. Beloved members of this French family finally decided to build a second home there. The beautiful antebellum home which they designed won everyone’s heart in the New Orleans area. Eventually, tales of strange occurrences resulted in fear for the locals. Was it true that it even became a "House of Ill-Repute" by the Madame Savannah? Such strange stories circulated. Many stated that House could feel emotions of those who inhabited her. This noble structure stood for many decades until the death of the most beloved owner, Savannah. Upon her death, it is said that Claire’s House self-imploded. Although she was named Claire’s House, someone else won her heart… a house can feel emotions of the owners.’

Hopefully this leaves enough ravenous suspense for any reader to proceed into this strange place, this space of mystery – so eloquently written that it becomes obvious that we are in the presence of a very fine author indeed. Grady Harp, October16
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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