When Olivia James receives a phone call just after midnight, she recognizes her brother's voice. But there's a problem: Her brother has been dead for the past nine weeks. Moving back to her old childhood home in Tennessee - the place where her brother has just died - her young daughter, Teddy, seems troubled, telling her mother that she's being visited by a menacing ghost. When another tragic death occurs and her daughter disappears, Olivia must confront the demonic force that has cursed her family.
"...genuinely frightening..." (Booklist)
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A Paranormal Gem from an Unexpected Source
"The Piper" rates among the highest of audiobooks I've listened to, which includes the whole "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series as Stephen Jobs' biography.
This is much like Stephen King's work at his best--dark, well-written, and scary.
Xe Sands could probably carry off a one-woman show on Broadway. She has a theatre full of voices, all interesting, and she commands as a storyteller.
I just finished “The Piper” by Lynn Hightower, which simply blew me away. I’ve known Hightower as a Shamus-Award-winning mystery writer, so I didn’t look into what I was buying at all. I started the Audible book, and was quickly introduced to Olivia James, a pragmatic Southern woman living in Los Angeles. She receives a strange phone call from her brother who assures her everything is all right, that he “has paid the piper.” The thing is, her brother has been dead for nine weeks.
I don’t buy scary horror stories like this or those by Stephen King. Truth is, I get scared. When I was a kid, I saw a movie called “Thirteen Ghosts,” and it haunted me for weeks. Best leave that stuff alone.
Still, I felt compelled to go on with “The Piper.” Olivia has lost her job, gone through a divorce, and is about to move back to her childhood home in Tennessee with her eight-year-old daughter. Olivia has inherited the house from her brother.
For me, alarms immediately sounded. Don’t go into that house where your brother died! Olivia, though, is a Southern steel magnolia, an agnostic of the paranormal. There has to be logical reasons behind the weird stuff that starts happening.
I listened in the car, as I walked the dogs, as I worked out, and even as I lay in the dark in bed just when I really shouldn’t be listening. I had to find out what happened. The reader, Xe Sands, voices each character, male and female, masterfully. The experience is akin to a listening to a great story around a campfire. Things in the story get worse and worse, yet you have to know what happens next. There isn’t a wasted sentence. Olivia James is a strong character in an overwhelming situation.
The story goes to amazing places—and it is truly frightening. I don’t think I can read another like this for a while. Yet I’m deeply satisfied. Now my only worry is can I find another audio book as great as this one?
- Christopher Meeks