Lucas, also known as Lou at some points in the story, is a true crime writer, although not a very successful one as his career has been dormant for years. Out of the blue he receives a letter from Jeffrey Halcomb, an inmate convicted of cult style killings almost 30 years previously. Jeffrey hasn’t talked to anyone about the gruesome killings but has read previous works by Lucas, liked them, and offers Lucas a deal. Move into my old house within a month and I will talk exclusively to you; Lucas might be famous again.
Lucas agrees to the move without talking to his wife or daughter. Wife is already tired of life with Lucas and is going on vacation with another man. She agrees that daughter Jeanie can live with Lucas until her return. She, unhappy, is preparing for divorce. Lucas, unhappy, is aware of the wife’s affair and packs his stuff to go in search of new book material. Jeanie, unhappy, doesn’t want to leave her friends, and doesn’t want to deal with a divorce. She is dragged by father to the house that cult murderer Jeff lived in. She does not know the history of the house.
The house shifts back and forth in time. Different kinds of furniture appear and disappear. Former cult members appear and disappear. Even when they don’t appear, they are noisy. Jeanie eventually discovers the background of the house and becomes enmeshed in an elaborate plan formulated by the imprisoned Jeffrey. Lucas, very aware of the home’s former history, never really figures out prisoner Jeffrey’s plans.
There is lots of killing, violence, and off-beat sex. With so many people killing themselves, it should be no surprise that prisoner and planner Jeffrey also kills himself. This is not a spoiler. It is what he does after he kills himself that makes the book interesting.
Readers who enjoy stories of the Manson family (referenced frequently in this book) will love this book also. There is an attempt to look in depth at dysfunctional family relationships, but there is so much action going on that family relationship themes are somewhat swept away and overcome.