(hb; 1988: first novel in the David Ash series)
From the inside flap:
"David Ash, a talented, skeptical investigator of the supernatural, works for the Psychical Research Institute in London. He is a troubled but driven man - driven to disprove the existence of things he cannot afford to believe. It is this very obsession that leads him to a house called Edbrook, and to a terrifying confrontation with his own buried past.
"Peculiar things happen at Edbrook, the Mariell family residence: rooms suddenly freeze while corridors are choked by the heat of unseen fires, and the whole house shudders with the chilling sounds of a child's distant laughter.
"Robert, Simon and Christina Mariell are the surviving heirs of this once noble family, whose history contains some unspoken horror. They believe their home is haunted and challenge Ash to prove otherwise. Ash moves into the mansion and struggles to maintain his pragmatic perspective, but even he cannot explain the shockingly real vision of a familiar pale girl whose irresistible embrace pulls Ash beneath the weeds of the garden pond and nearly traps him there forever."
Haunted, an old-fashioned ghost story with its spooky mood and solid, traumatized characters, is a hard to set down read.
I spotted one of the main plot twists early on, but Herbert's streamlined writing, aforementioned mood and characters (and their murky motivations) made for an enjoyable book.
Promising start of a series, this: worth checking out.
Followed by The Ghosts of Sleath.
The resulting film was released in the UK on October 27, 1995. It was released stateside on June 18, 1996.
Aidan Quinn played Prof. David Ash. Kate Beckinsale played Christina Mariell. Anthony Andrews played Robert Mariell. Alex Lowe played Simon Mariell. Anna Massey played Nanny Tess Webb. John Gielgud played Doctor Doyle.
Geraldine Somerville played Kate. Victoria Shalet played Juliet Ash.
Lewis Gilbert directed the film, from a script he co-authored with Timothy Prager and Bob Kellett.