(2001) Paul Cornell, Gollancz, £10.99, trdpbk, 422pp, ISBN 0-575-07203-2
In a future Britain that is ruled by the 'Great Families', Reverend Jane Bruce is sent to bless the house "Heartsease" for the Campbells. Booth Hawtrey, researcher for the alien Aurigans who have made him virtually immortal, and his biographer Rebecca Champhert, former lover of David Hawtrey, are also sent to "Heartsease" by the Aurigans. Bruce finds her bodyguards have been made to disappear and is charged by a ghost with torturing to death poor Rebecca. But what is the house, and why does it interest the aliens, and can Booth find out in time to affect the outcome...?
This is Cornell's first novel, and I wanted to like it, not least because he's a nice chap and I've enjoyed some of his short stories. Unfortunately this book plods along without ever actually becoming interesting, and the characters for the most part leave me cold. Worst of all, the ending seems very contrived though, thankfully, it turned up just before I became too bored to read on any more. I can't, in all honesty, recommend this book although, should Cornell improve, it will probably be worth a read as a context setter for his career. Cornell can certainly write, but this doesn't really hold the reader's attention or grip the imagination. Better luck next time...
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