by Julie Earhart-Cracchiolo
Probably the scariest book I have ever read is Stephen King’s Misery. Now I must say that one of Chris Bohjalian’s earliest novels, Hangman, is taking the number two slot. That pushes Bohjalian’s novel The Night Strangers to third place, if anyone cares.
Published in 1991,Hangman is Bohjalian’s second published novel. It’s not his best written, but it does show the signs of what’s to come from this now-New York Times bestselling author.
Marcia and Brian Middleton are re-locating to Vermont from Manhattan in the wake of Brian’s affair with a neighbor. They have chosen a charming, 100-year-old New England farmhouse that needs updating.
No one in the town has ever been inside the house. Rumor has it that a noose still hangs in the attic from eighty years ago when a seven-year-old girl hanged herself. Most in the picturesque town of Deering believe the house is haunted.
Marcia feels something isn’t right, but can’t put her finger on it. So do her cats. Brian, on the other hand, is really getting into it. He’s anxious to get involved with the repairs, so much so that he asks the contractor to stop all work.
On their first night in the house, Marcia wakes up to find Brian gone. She searches the house, but he’s nowhere to be found. Then she goes into the attic, and there she finds Brian hanging from the rafters.
Detective J. P. Burrows is assigned the case. He doesn’t believe that Brian took his life, and that Marcia had committed murder. The house has tales to tell, and insists that they be told.
This isn’t a gory, bump-in-the-night scary story; it’s a true psychological thriller that gave me nightmares.
I give Hangman 5 out of 5 stars.