book review

“Ghost on Lonesome Hill” from Four Corners Vol II

I’ve come to the end of my Four Corners journey and while it has been enjoyable, the overriding feeling I am left with is that there are far too many lost Roscoe masterworks out there. The Four Corners series is just from the Argosy magazine collections. As such, it should not be seen as a unified statement despite the thematic similarities.

The last story in the collection, Ghost on Lonesome Hill is a better ghost story than The Man Who Hated Lincoln. It’s not quite in the same league as the other three, but it’s a fine way to end the book.

We’re informed that Four Corners has a haunted house. And you know if this town filled with curses and dire fates has only one house that’s haunted, that house must be really fucking haunted. Two brothers used to live there., but there was some sort of scuffle between them. Shepherd Colebaugh was injured and Winthrup was dead. Shepherd claimed he acted in self-defense and ended up serving a short stint before moving to England.

We’re told this information on a train headed to Four Corners. Two men are listening. One is a mysterious stranger named Ladd and the other is our main character, Johnny Harter. Both men are traveling to a hotel. Ladd is interested in fishing, so after checking in, he heads to the river. Harter follows.

You see, there’s something about the stranger that doesn’t sit right with him. At first, his suspicions seem thin, but later we learn there was more. And it’s one of GoLH’s major flaws that the clues are very good, but they are not given to the reader until the end of the story…when they are essentially useless. I’m well aware that Roscoe is not writing a traditional type of mystery, but the two stories with Bud managed to give us clues just fine even though they weren’t necessarily detective stories. This could have been clued much better.

It’s certainly not a fatal flaw because the strengths of the piece have much more to do with Roscoe’s descriptive abilities than his plotting. There’s a moment late in the story when Roscoe seems to be entering the realm of fantasy. My heart sank a little — I think yours will too — until came one of the author’s most inspired moments. In the midst of a hallucination, Roscoe skillfully steers the story back to reality. I was fooled, no doubt due to his talent for making everyday events so surreal. He so often borders that edge of reality that we cannot tell which side we’re on. There was a moment in a storm when I could swear that a ghost was running through a house. But no. 🙂

I’d like to thank theinvisibleevent for inspiring me to do something on this blog. I have a few reviews that will go up in December, but I’m spending most of my time writing, so I don’t imagine I’ll be too active on here. We’ll see.

4 thoughts on ““Ghost on Lonesome Hill” from Four Corners Vol II”

  1. It’s been great trading reviews with you, always lovely to get your thoughts on anything you read. But, yes, be sure not to neglect the important business of that next book — the people are waiting!

    Liked by 1 person

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