Mary Higgins Clark: Voices in the Coalbin (1989) A Ghost Story

This is not on my R.I.P. list but it suits just fine and I am in the mood to stray from the path. I felt like reading some Mary Higgins Clark after having visited The Book Whisperers’ Blog the other day. I remembered that I had a collection of her short stories (in German Träum süss, kleine Schwester). They  don’t exist in this combination in English but that does not matter as I think there are only two very goods ones in it and those are available as Audio Book. However That’s the Ticket does not classify for an entry in R.I.P. as it is neither fish nor fowl. No ghost story, no mystery, but it is OK.

Voices in the Coalbin is also in The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories (Danielle from A Work In Progress has reviewed some of them and will go on reviewing more for R.I.P.) as it is really an eery story, something  I did not expect from Mary Higgins Clark. It has all we like in her writing, great descriptions, detail, atmosphere. And it is spooky. It tells the story of a young couple, Mike and Laurie, who drive to a weekend house in the country that belonged to Mike’s grandmother. The trip is meant to help Laurie to recover from nightmares, depression and phobias. She has been seeing a psychiatrist who warned the husband to be very careful as she is fragile. She seems to be on the brink of remembering things that are linked to her own grandmother who mistreated and abused her emotionally as a child.  When they arrive at the holiday house  nothing is like he remembered it. It’s rather bleak and sad. When something happens that reminds Laurie of her childhood, she panics and then disappears. I am not revealing anything more. I already said it, it is not a mystery, it is really a ghost story and the end was creepy.

I loved to read it, cuddled up in bed, both cats close by and sipping a cup of tea. It is already quite cool over here, crows are sitting in the trees in front of the window and their cries sound already much more eery and lonelier than in summer…

12 thoughts on “Mary Higgins Clark: Voices in the Coalbin (1989) A Ghost Story

  1. This Mammoth Book collection seems really good. Danielle has reviewed some stories that sounded all intriguing. I got Bitten by the way. Maybe I will start it soon. I thought of my grandmother today who was from Britanny. I really believed in werewolves as a child, or loups-garous as we said. I really think the origin of this belief is French.

  2. It makes for nice, atmospheric reading when the weather is cooler and the days begin to become shorter! I really like this collection and am glad it is one that I own–I am reading from several, so it is always fun flipping through them and deciding which to try. Perhaps I will read this one this weekend, too!

  3. Yes, it is perfect with this weather. At least here. The trees are green but the air is cool. The heating is on already and the cats want to sleep in my bed again. When it is warm they never do.
    I don’t have this collection and am not sure if it is still available. I find it difficult to review stories. You don’t want to give away too much but still want to make the reader see what it is about. Tricky.

  4. Can’t you believe that I have never read Mary Higgins Clark before? but I know that she writes mystery. This is a new information, a ghost story by her…I have to try finding this and it could be my 1st MHC 🙂

  5. I don’t know if tame is the right word…it’s just she never intrigued me.

    Someone told me about John Saul and I was intrigued and searched his book, I have it on my self tho I haven’t read it yet. But for MHC, no matter how many time I heard bout her, it never intrigued me…your review is the 1st that make me want to try reading her book

    • I just hope I am not misleading you as I believe this story is quite unique in her work but anyhow, I think in general she gets atmosphere very well and what it is like to be stalked.

  6. Nafisa — I didn’t understand it either!! The only thing I could think of was that possibly Laurie was singing as a child and ghosts sang with her, and the ghosts were recording the singing. ?? And that she repressed the memories of the ghosts until she was an adult? It didn’t make much sense to me.

    Anyone else have any ideas??

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