The Ghost It Was by Richard Hull

‘Haunted House Inhabited’

A haunted house, a cantankerous old man, an assortment of nephews and one niece.  Most of the nephews would like to get their hands on the uncle’s money, should the opportunity arise.

Gregory Spring-Benson has decided to undertake a career as a journalist: it will be easy, he thinks.  He manages to persuade a reluctant editor that he can get a story: his estranged uncle James Warrenton, a well-known international financier, has recently adopted spiritualistic ideas and has recently purchased Amberhurst Place.  The house has been unoccupied for some years because there is a legend that it is haunted.

Gregory Spring-Benson sets off to see his uncle.

‘The captive, sir.  Will you be requiring the dog?’

After a few relatively minor setbacks, Spring-Benson meets his uncle.  He also meets his cousins: Henry, Emily, Arthur, and Christopher.

Mr Hull has provided us with a cast of unlikeable (and in some cases quite ineffectual) characters.  And then there is the butler, Rushton.  Spring-Benson may be in search of a story, but which one?

It took me a while to get into the novel as much of the first half serves to set the scene and demonstrate the nature of the characters and their relationships.  But once things get moving, they move quite quickly.  A ghost, and then a death.  Are they related?  Is it murder? 

Fortunately, Scotland Yard becomes involved.  Unfortunately, there is a second death before the case is solved.  Who is responsible?  You will need to read closely to work it out.

An enjoyable read.

This novel was first published in 1936 and was republished in 2018.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Agora Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith