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'Mr Rhodes and the Crawshay Inheritance' by Katherine Haynes

This story from The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Mazes (Sarob Press 2020) follows more traditional lines than some. It is also a little bloodier than most, sucker-punching the reader with a depiction of a horror that's equal to anything Monty James described.

The setting is a country house, complete with maze, where a posh garden party is being held. However, the host and hostess are called away as their student son is involved in a terrible car accident. As a result, Nigel Rhodes, a good friend, takes over as host. Exploring the maze, he encounters a young girl who seems to be a little lonely, a little mischievous.

Gradually Nigel discovers the truth about the girl and her history, as a contemporary drama unfolds offstage. Suffice to say that the inheritance of the title is one many of us would turn down. The story is told in Haynes' characteristic light, precise style, a detached approach that makes the climactic moment more effective, in my opinion.

So, another winner. We move on next time to a story by C(live) E. Ward, a stalwart of the Jamesian fiction circuit. I am, of course, looking forward to it...

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