It’s a Mystery: Floating Staircase, by Ronald Malfi

Floating Staircase

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Travis Glasgow has never truly recovered from the drowning death of his brother Kyle when they were kids, feeling tremendous guilt for having taken him swimming at night. He’s managed to channel his turmoil into his writing, and now has a string of popular novels under his belt, all of which are horror stories involving bodies of water. Floating Staircase is narrated by Travis, and it, too, involves a drowning, that of young Elijah Dentman. When he and his wife, Jodie, purchase a lake house, they are horrified to learn that the Dentmans sold the place in its aftermath. The central image of the book is a wooden set of stairs that juts out of the lake’s surface, part of a dock that was ripped away in a storm. From his first night in his new home, Travis senses a presence, and as the days pass, the discoveries he makes range from the the mysterious to the macabre. Soon Jodie begins hearing and seeing things as well, but she’s more frightened of the effects that the death of Elijah are having on Travis.

Floating Staircase is a ghost story in the best sense of the word, eerie rather than graphic, and enlivened with evocative description. It’s also a cracking good mystery. The author’s technique of divulging the details of Kyle’s death along with Elijah’s keeps the intensity high, and not all of the scary moments are apparitional. For that matter, not all of the memorable moments are scary; following Travis as he struggles to come to terms with his guilt and his grief is a moving experience in its own right.

Well worth reading, on all its levels.

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