Name: The Ghosts of Becket Lane
Author: Ralph Wigg
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
For this review, I was sent a copy of The Ghosts of Becket Lane, the debut novel by Ralph Wigg to review.
The novel is a ghost story written in the first person from the perspective of the main protagonist, Leo Frederick.
The novel begins at the beach where Leo is experience deep grief remembering his late wife Linda, who passed away from cancer two years before. At a beach cafe he suddenly sees an old woman staring at him in the queue before she vanishes without trace. He orders his food and realises he has lost his map but a young boy turns up with it saying an old woman asked him to give it to him.
He looks around and again sees the old woman at another table staring at him so he goes over to talk to her but she vanishes right in front of his eyes. Finally, on his drive home he looks in his rear mirror and suddenly sees the woman a third time. Astounded he decides to investigate why the woman has appeared. Over the next few days he begins to see her around his home as well as the ghost of another younger woman. He collects a band of friends together and investigates, eventually coming across the fifteen year old case of a missing woman that may somehow be connected.
However as they get closer to the truth, the friends begin to be attacked with arson, attempted murder and abduction, as someone is determined to keep the past buried at any cost…
One of the things I did like most about the novel is how it starts as a ghost story but then becomes more in line with a thriller that has supernatural elements as Leo and his friends delve into the history of the house where lives and why the ghosts are appearing.
Indeed the central mystery of the novel is well thought out and is revealed in a very clever way so the ending does come as a complete surprise which is one of my favourite things whenever I read a thriller.
The central character of Leo is well thought out and you do feel he goes on a journey throughout the novel. He begins the novel alone and isolated but through his investigation he picks up a group of like-minded friends and the novel is just as much about him learning to live and love again following the bereavement of his wife as it is about the central mystery being resolved. His friendships with Spec, Neil, Tom and also his relationship with Mel are all well thought out in the novel and happen organically with each character helping shed more light on the mystery.
My only real critiques really are two minor things. In the middle of the novel Leo mentions how his friendship with Spec and Neil lasts “to this day” which does make the novel lose some tension a that point as you realise these three characters aren’t in any danger if they survive past the novels events.
However shortly afterwards some new characters are introduced so it is only a minor thing and its from here the novel does ramp up the tension as someone begins to react with violence to try to stop them from investigating further and it becomes more real to the characters and us.
Also without spoiling the ending, some parts of the central mystery are not fully explained which is a tad frustrating as a reader who likes to know all the answers to what actually happened as Leo explains he considers what happened to not be important!
However, whilst writing this review post, I have realised the books theme of Leo learning to live again following bereavement is really the main part of the novel so perhaps focusing on what he learned about himself is a better ending than doing the thriller trope of explaining exactly what happened to the woman.
However the blurb does state whether the ending is actually the ending and it does leave things on a cliffhanger for a potential second novel so perhaps something could be stored up there.