THE SMALL HAND: A GHOST STORY BY SUSAN HILL, ALLEN & UNWIN, $24.99.
From the mistress of the modern ghost story comes this small and perfectly formed tale that, even weeks after reading, I cannot get out of my head. It haunts me, as a good ghost story should.
Our questionable hero is antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow, who gets lost while driving along remote country lanes and, as dusk falls, comes upon a dilapidated and apparently abandoned house. Wandering through the decaying garden, he feels “a small hand creep into my right one … its fingers curled themselves trustingly into my palm” – but there is no child standing beside him. So starts a thrillingly creepy tale, which is impossible to put down until finished, reminding us in the most subtle way that the taint of sin blights all that it touches. A classic ghost story message, superbly updated.