Sep 122016

Cover for Cherie Priest's The Family Plot.Booklist: In Priest’s gothic haunted-house story, workers at failing architectural salvage company are given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse their fortunes, if they can survive the ghosts plaguing the property. Dahlia Dutton, the daughter of Music City Salvage’s owner, loves old houses. She’s still sore over losing her own beautifully restored home in her divorce. Once Dahlia arrives at the grand, well-preserved Withrow estate in the Tennessee mountains, she wishes she could save it; instead, she and her crew­ — her estranged cousin Bobby; his lovable son, Gabe; and salvage rookie Brad­ — have mere days to rescue the valuables before demolition. To save money, they sleep on-site, when the mansion’s romantic charm turns menacing. Strange occurrences and spectral sightings increase as the crew dismantles the house, exposing the With row family’s secrets. Priest spices up a standard haunting with an irresistible premise focused on the “hidden treasure” aspect of salvage work. Careful character building accentuates the novel’s slow build, so by the time the salvagers are in real danger, they feel like real people, too. Despite lulls in pacing, the final scenes are terrifying. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary ghost stories.