Death at the Seaside by F. R. Jameson is a short, stand-alone story of ghostly revenge. The character description of the once extremely handsome Larry Castle given in Chapter One will pull a reader into the story. The imagery is detailed, appealing to read in itself, and is essential in setting the mood of the rest of the story.
The novel uses very British English, so some terms may not be familiar to readers. There are also cultural references which may confuse younger readers. During an evening meal in which Larry meets the Montgomery family dining at a neighboring table, Larry hears an utterance from the child which will resonate throughout the story. The Montgomery son was playing with a WW II Spitfire. He was “still giving Jerry a good hiding after all these years.” (p.10). Readers should not look back to determine who Jerry is.
Larry is a ladies’ man in the extreme. Every female is a fair target for his advances, but it seems his favorite category is married women. Once Larry obtains an agreement with the lady to go to his room, the sex is rough to the point of the death of the woman. He doesn’t kill them, of course. They are married, at least most of them. There was no way the disappearance could be covered up. Most of his extreme near-death experiences took place between Larry and prostitutes. Even their disappearances would be noted. Larry was careful.
Larry had not been so careful in the past, and that is where the big secret comes in. During the height of combat hostilities in WW II, Larry had a good friend named Lestrade. The two were on courier duty accompanying a cargo they should not have known about. Their convoy was attacked and all but Lestrade and Larry were killed. The cargo survived intact. The two friends knew that they could disappear with the strongbox of money and no one would ever know. Instead, they hid the money and allowed themselves to be rescued. After the war, the two would be wealthy.
If there were only one person to reclaim the money, that person would be wealthier still and would be able to live a life of pleasure and comfort. Wealth would bring respect, even for the investment banker that Larry had become. But where was Lestrade? Larry was certain no one would ever know. That was Larry’s secret. Which is why he was surprised when Montgomery’s son, perhaps ten years old, looked at Larry and, in a somewhat adult voice produced, “This isn’t over, Castle,” the boy said, his voice suddenly much deeper. “I’ll tear you down brick by brick.” (p.19).
This story is well-written and is part of a series. This short novella is a four-plus Amazon star read. I plan to read all the stories in the series.