The Waiting Room by F G Cottam
|The Waiting Room by F G Cottam|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Katie Pullen|
|Summary: Strange occurrences at the disused waiting room of Shale Point Station lead us to an intriguing, dark and mysterious ghost story. F G Cottam writes vividly and effortlessly creates a story both unsettling and disturbing, but lets us down a little with his somewhat implausible ending.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
On the outskirts of ex rock star Martin Stride's country estate lies the disused Shale Point Station. Abandoned in the 1960s the railway line has been dug up and removed and all that remains is the crumbling platform and eerie waiting room. Martin is quick to employ Britain's top ghost hunter Julian Creed to investigate the strange and threatening occurrences of the waiting room that he and his children have witnessed – the sound and smell of a steam train, male voices singing a famous World War One song, and most frightening of all, the leering face of a soldier at the waiting room window.
Unbeknown to Martin, Julian Creed is a fraud who does not even believe in the paranormal and whose reputation has been built on a world of illusion created by his research and effects team. But after spending a disturbing night alone in the waiting room, Julian has to reassess his opinion of the paranormal, and brings in his researcher Elena to investigate the mystery that surrounds the station, a mystery that will catch up with the present day and change his life as well as that of Martin and Elena's forever.
F G Cottam has packed this relatively slim, yet multi-dimensional, book full of mystery, intrigue and suspense. We not only have the secret history of the Shale Point Station and its waiting room to discover, but also Martin and Julian's personal stories and indeed that of Elena, Julian's researcher.
The characters are all real and complex individuals and I particularly enjoyed the dichotomy between Julian and Martin. Martin isn't interested in fame, but has it and the wealth to go with it. He remains a family man, keen to protect his wife and children from the world and their privacy is his main concern. Julian however, is vain and greedy, and strives for nothing but fame and fortune, building a career on fraud with no qualms whatsoever, even sacrificing his relationship with his father in the process. Naturally the two have very differing ideas about life and how to handle the problem of the waiting room and yet are able to find common ground and even friendship once the secrets of the waiting room begin to reveal themselves.
However, Elena Coyle, Julian's hard working and lonely researcher stands out as the most human character. She is the brains behind Creed's ghost hunting operation and ends up playing a major part in the mystery of the waiting room. She is dedicated to her work and as a result we know we can rely on her discoveries. Her story does involve a previous romance (you can probably guess who with) which feels a little misplaced or added on just for female readers at times, but thankfully makes sense when it becomes essential to Cottam's ending.
As for Shale Point Station and the waiting room itself, there are many layers to its mystery and Cottam drip feeds clues slowly but surely (I am dying to reveal all), keeping the reader tensely turning the pages as he builds up to the denouement. The use of a diary from the 1920s is key to fleshing out historical events and along with regular references to an unsettling Wilfred Owen poem adds further depth to the story.
The writing is rich and vivid and every page is a treat for the imagination. I thought I would race through it as it's just short of three hundred pages, but found myself savouring Cottam's cinematic descriptions of the people and places that inhabit this novel. The scenes involving the malevolent waiting room itself are intense, full of a claustrophobia that is both disturbing and chilling.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Waiting Room by F G Cottam at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Waiting Room by F G Cottam at Amazon.com.
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