This book had a whisper of familiarity about it. I'm not sure if that is because I've previously read it, or because it shared so many plot points with The Trembling Hills and The Window on the Square. Either way, I absolutely loved this one.
Whitney has such a way with setting. I know that I've said this before, but I have to say it again. I have family in Colorado, where this book is set, and so much of this book rang true for me. I really don't know exactly how she does it, but she takes the tiniest details and inserts them into the story in a way that is both effective and familiar. Reading this was like returning to the Estes Park of my childhood.
I'm also reminded by reading these older books that authors hadn't yet stumbled onto the money grab of writing series with narratives that extend across books. It is so refreshing, really, to read a book that is a complete story all on its own, without having to worry that there will be a cliff-hanger at the end, leaving me to drop $11.99 on a new release in a year. I miss the days of the stand-alone.
This one is just vintage Whitney, with all of the recurring dreams, mysterious deaths, decrepit and fading mansions, and attempted murders that go along with her contemporary gothics. If I have quibbles, she relies way too much on her heroines meeting an older boy to whom she was emotionally attached as a child and somehow turning emotional resonance that into adult passion. I grow a bit weary of that trope.
With Halloween bingo approaching, my Phyllis Whitney binge is likely over for a time. And, they do all have a sameness to them that becomes more obvious reading multiple books in a short time period. This is true of a lot of authors and genres, so this isn't so much a criticism as it is an observation.
It has occurred to me several times that a Netflix or an Amazon could make a wonderful series by adapting these books for television, in the vein of the series adapting Christie's Hercule Poirot canon. They are so deliciously atmospheric.