Pete Brennan (ex-policeman) and Kevin Keeley (small time crook) and their new housemate, Lady Concepta Rand – Epping have decided to make some money on the side by making a documentary about the paranormal. The trouble is, Pete is as big a cynic as they come and Sceptre has her own spectral side-kick in the form of Fishwick, her family’s butler, who has been dead for 100 years. Can Pete and Sceptre reconcile their differences for long enough to solve a real-life crime before they too, end up on “the other side”.
“The Haunting of Melmerby Manor” definitely felt to me as if it was written in the style of the Ben Aaronovitch Peter Grant series but not in any way as successful. The jokey style of writing did not appeal to me at all and by the end I found it extremely grating. Whilst some novelist (such as Aaronovitch) can get away with this sort of writing by ramping up the characters and throwing in a great action filled romp of a story, this one just felt as if the jokes were all there were and there had been no thought to them adding to very much of a plot.
Equally, whilst the characters of Sceptre and Kevin were actually quite sweet and therefore appealing, Peter Brennan seemed to be written as one of those bullish gentleman who rides roughshod over everyone and is seen as a “maverick”. Sadly, I just found him unpleasant and generally irritating, and the scenes where he constantly threatens to (and in some cases actually does) hit people, detracted completely from any enjoyment I may have got from any other part of the story.
All in all, I found this novel totally lacking in any character nuance and generally just quite brutish and thug like. It appears that this is the first in a series; I certainly would not look to read any others in the future.