I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Of the 5 Simone St. James books I've read (and she's published), this is the one I've liked the least. Not to say it's not a very good, well-written story–it is–it's just much less gothic-y than at least 3 of the others.
England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex’s wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins…and the mysterious death in the family’s past is just the beginning…
All is not well at Wych Elm House. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him.
And then a familiar stranger arrives at Wych Elm House…
This book felt like it was slow to start, because of that last line in the synopsis; they should have left that off, because I spent the first x% of the book waiting for the stranger to appear. Only after that happened did I feel like the book picked up speed. This story also felt somehow less creepy; maybe it's just that I've read all the books too close together, and my threshold is lower. Old creepy mansion: check. Dark gray, misty atmosphere: check. Ghosts: check. But still, somehow, not that creepy.
Lost Among the Living was also a lot more of a straight-up mystery: while the other books had a mystery aspect to them, the focus was on the hauntings. Here, the focus is on what happened to Frances, the parallels between her life and Jo's, and what Jo is going to do with her life going forward. There's also a lot less (read: no) sexual tension in this book, and I do find that spices a read up, even when romance is not the point.
This sounds like a rather negative review, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this book; it's a great story and it's well written and it pulled me in. My small dissatisfactions stem from the expectations I had from previous reads that I unfairly applied to this book and the author isn't writing cookie-cutter plots. Indeed, the next book's preview is at the end of this one and it's the first one she's written that takes place in present day, with an alternating timeline in the 50's. Not sure if I want to go there, but I have the next year to adjust to the idea.