FICTION

The Ghost Notebooks

Pantheon. Feb. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781101871096. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101871102. F
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In Dolnick's fourth novel (after At the Bottom of Everything), New York City couple Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe are at a crossroads in their relationship and their professional lives, with musician Nick's career stalled and Hannah just laid off from her position as a museum exhibits researcher. Then a promising opportunity presents itself, and Hannah accepts the directorship of the Edmund Wright Historic House in rural Hibernia, NY. Wright, an obscure 19th-century philosopher, endured the tragic death of a son, and other mysterious deaths to haunt the property. When Hannah starts hearing voices and having trouble sleeping, Nick wonders if she is faithfully taking her antidepressants. Then she disappears, and Nick embarks on a journey that will take him into the past and the future as he uncovers long-kept secrets and connections that stand the test of time. Unfortunately, neither Nick nor Hannah ever seems fully invested in the other, and the weightier themes here suffer. Once Nick is on his own, his obsession just doesn't ring true.
VERDICT A well-constructed, creepy, psychological tale about a relationship that barely warrants such attention; the asides into Wright's life and work are welcome, and one wishes for more of this thread to hold it all together.

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