“That sound—you feel it before you hear it, a kind of low vibration in your bones.” – Harper Fox
Title: Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack and Frayne: Book One)
Author: Harper Fox
Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Blurb: Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.
But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.
Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.
Review: There’s nothing better than a good spooky story to get the brain juices going and the adrenaline flowing, and as far as spooks and stories go, Harper Fox’s Once Upon a Haunted Moor is a really good one.
The setting of this book is the perfect place for a legendary beast to reside, Halloween the perfect time for bogeymen to lurk in the shadows. The Beast of Bodmin Moor is alleged to haunt the fog shrouded and craggy hills above the village of Dark, where Constable Gideon Frayne is working a case that has haunted him day and night for a fortnight now. A child has disappeared from Dark without a trace, and Gideon is at wit’s end to find little Lorna Kemp and bring her home. Or, at least to give her mother closure. The first thing Harper Fox does so well right from the outset of this novella is draw the reader into the legend of the beast by supplying an atmospheric and ethereal sense of place. The second thing she does well is leave more questions than answers about the legend—is it merely a folktale handed down from generation to generation, or is there something that lurks in the mist, waiting to claim its next victim? The best part of any ghost story is that which can’t be proved and that which can’t be disproved, and the author balances belief with skepticism perfectly.
Never has the phrase desperate times call for desperate measures applied more so than in this case, and never has it been applied more appropriately than when psychic Lee Tyack shows up in the village to offer his particular talents to the investigation, though Gideon has a difficult time admitting he’s grown quite desperate enough to employ a charlatan to unravel this clue deprived crime. Circumstance, fear, and need throw these two men together, but it’s a little bit of loneliness and a lot of attraction between them that ignites their budding romance, then dials up the tension when Lee, too, disappears. Harper Fox is playing this relationship out, thank goodness, resisting the insta-love temptation, for which I am truly grateful, but before I can say I’m invested in this one, I need to see these two men together outside of them working a case. The potential is there, no doubt, but there’s not quite enough there yet to support my own insta-love for them. I’m sure that’s being saved for the books to come, however, and I’ll be reading each and every one of them to be sure.
Once Upon a Haunted Moor is a bit of a cat-and-mouse story—the reader is given a pretty significant clue to the kidnapper’s identity before enough evidence comes together for Gideon to make a case, or at least before he’s willing to believe what he sees. When the chase gets underway in a race-against-the-clock rescue, as well as to apprehend the culprit, the tension hits just the right pitch to once again mix reality with legend, which all leads to this book’s happy for now ending and the promise that Gideon and Lee working together is sure to bring more supernatural suspense, and more romance too.
You can buy Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack and Frayne: Book One) here: