The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child is a throwback to the tales of Poe, with a dash of modern day science fiction run loose tossed in for good measure.
“…It was a Friday. I’d missed the place. And this time…this time…’ He swallowed. ‘It happened again. Only it was worse. Much worse. I didn’t just want to stare at the ocean. I wanted to walk down to it. Walk down to the sea, walk into the sea, and keep on walking…I stood up. It was a terrible feeling. I knew what I was doing, I didn’t want to do it, but I could not help myself. It was like a strange compulsion.’ Beads of sweat were springing up on McCarty’s forehead, and he brushed them away with the back of a hand. ‘And there was a voice, too. A voice in my head-that was not my own…”
Jeremy Logan is an enigmalogist, an investigator who specializes in the unknown. Phenomena that cannot be readily explained by science. What some would call a ghost hunter of sorts. Logan receives a message from a prestigious think tank along the coast of Rhode Island called the Lux. A place he had been run out of years before, his studies ridiculed by the scientists and scholars of the Lux. Logan is being asked to return. Frightening events are taking place on the grounds of the Lux, erratic behavior and a incredibly brutal act of suicide by one of its more learned scholars. Madness seems to be descending on the Lux. A madness that defies rational explanation.
Logan’s investigation leads him to find a long lost room in one of the unused wings of the estate. In this Forgotten room is a machine and an abandoned project from decades before. A project that has seemed to have begun anew.
“…the apparition, which had been summoned by a complex set of rituals which I will not describe here, was undoubtedly malignant. Those who had been present (I was not among them) spoke of a terrible stench that assaulted the nostrils; an odd thickening of the atmosphere, as if one was within a compression chamber; and, most noticeably, the sense of a malefic presence-a hostile entity, angered at having been disturbed…”
Logan must solved the riddle of the forgotten room, because whatever had been awaken in the room, now has its sights set on him.
Lincoln Child writes smart, fast paced, intelligent fiction along the lines of Michael Crichton and James Rollins. Normally tag teaming with Douglas Preston, who together, are probably best known for their Agent Pendergast series. But every so often Child will step out on his own and when he does the result is a very intelligent mystery/adventure novel. Child’s domain is the science run amok and into the realm of the supernatural. He dances in this domain very well.
One of the things that Lincoln Child does so well in his writing is that he doesn’t dumb it down for the reader. He assumes we are intelligent enough to understand what he is talking about and because he does, he is able to take us deeper into these adventures without sacrificing pace and tempo. Some readers may find this intimidating but there are so many more who are appreciative of a writer who does not sacrifice story to simplify the novel.
This is and isn’t a ghost story. It is a science fiction adventure mystery novel but the ghost story is still there. Breathing softly underneath the layers upon layers of mystery and suspense. The estate the story takes place in is a classic haunted house theme. You will expect Vincent Price to step out of a hidden shadowy doorway at any time. And if you don’t know who Vincent Price is…seriously just turn off the E channel already and grow a brain and a literary culture!
The Forgotten Room is good, better than most of the offerings out there right now and a breath of fresh air that has been missing for some time.