One of Conan Doyle's lesser known books, The Mystery of Cloomber is not a Sherlock Holmes thriller, but a dark tale of
the supernatural that will keep the reader on edge.
Narrated by John Fothergill West, it begins as he, his widowed father, John Hunter West, and his sister Esther, venture to Scottish coastal Wigtownshire upon the invitation of Hunter West's half-brother, William Farintosh, the Laird of Branksome. Laird Farintosh, suffering from a lung disorder, decides to spend time in Italy, offering his manor to the Wests. Though Branksome is hardly a place of luxury, the West's find it a welcome relief from city life in Edinburgh.
While Hunter West enjoys his solitude to devote time to scholarly pursuits, his children become intrigued by the sudden occupation of the abandoned Cloomber Tower. They discover that the new tenant is Major-General J.B. Heatherstone, his wife, son, and daughter. But they discover little else because Heatherstone erects a fence around the property and makes it clear he wants no company. His children Gabriel and Mordaunt, however, befriend John and Esther, and the suspense begins.
The Major-General was a distinguished commander of the Indian Infantry in the 1840s, when a terrible event occurred on October 5th 1841 that haunts him for nearly 40 years. A crime is committed which demands retribution, but part of the punishment is in the wait, knowing it will happen, but not knowing when. To serve as a constant reminder, the sound of tinkling bells follows Heatherstone from which he cannot escape. The suspense builds as October 5th approaches.
When three Buddhist priests appear on land unscathed after the wreck of the "Belinda" during a storm, a series of events unravels the mystery of the terror surrounding Heatherstone. A real chiller, this book is highly recommended.
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