Having not seen his Aunt H. in a while, Artemus is unprepared for her and the estate’s decline. Gone is the confident woman who had raised him and in her place is someone who seems frail and who spooks quite easily. As much of a sceptic as Artemus tends to be, he too can feel a tingling down his spine as one strange ghostly event after another plays out. Between life-long servants being surly and acting strangely and a new gardener who can’t tell his flowers apart, all is not right at the family estate. But it’s more than just the noise of an old house settling that makes things go bump in the night and this ghost is bent on revenge.
As an ardent fan of Josh Lanyon, I was fully prepared to love Séance on a Summer’s Night and, for the most part, it certainly did satisfy. In this case, it was the mystery element that really stood out for me but the romance, which is often secondary in her novels anyway, didn’t quite draw me in. It was a bit rushed and as such it rang a bit false. I could understand the lust factor and appreciate it, but there was so much else going on in the house that Seamus being so focused on being with Artemus seemed to discredit his reason for being there. Yes, I can admit this may seem nitpicky, but this is an author who I feel always puts the story before the romance and I really admire her for that. With this book, I felt the romance was shoved into the limelight abruptly making it almost feel like an insta-love trope without the accompanying “I love you.” Having said all that, I can assure you that the main thrust of the novel—the mayhem and murder–was spot on and kept me guessing right along with Artemus and that was delightful.
There were more than a few times I wanted to slap some sense into Aunt H. and when it was finally revealed why she was acting as she was, I felt somewhat relieved. I do wish she had been the one to speak more on that matter rather than Artemus essentially guessing his way through it with her. However, it was a great relief to me that her character was redeemed in the end and not quite as foolish as she sometimes appeared throughout the earlier parts of the novel. Seamus was loveable and honestly, despite the rush to romance part, I would not say no to seeing more of these two. Josh Lanyon is absolutely genius at creating crime-fighting duos and amateur sleuths and Artemus is spot on as someone who could end up in trouble through no fault of his own and need his cohort in crime, so to speak, to help him out. They had great chemistry and there was just that initial touch of mistrust that made the relationship sizzle.
Séance on a Summer’s Night was part macabre alongside a bit of romance with a good dose of mystery to finish it off. Fans (and that who this was really written for as the afterword indicates) will love it and those newer to this author’s work will find it to be entertaining.