At the flat in Weatherall Walk there was no milk in the fridge, no ice in the tiny freezer unit.... The better furniture was hung over with drop cloths, the leather-bound books evacuated from their shelves.... Unconnected wiring threaded from walls, and a smell of lazy drains, something rotting, unfurled from the sewer all the way up to this flat. Winnie wrenched open a window. But no sign of John? Winifred Rudge, a bemused writer struggling to get beyond the runaway success of her mass-market astrology book, travels to London to jump-start her new novel about a woman who is being haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Upon her arrival, she finds that her stepcousin and old friend John Comestor has disappeared, and a ghostly presence seems to have taken over his apartment in the nineteenth-century rowhouse once owned by Winnie's great-great-grandfather. Is it the spirit of this ancestor, who, family legend claims, was Charles Dickens's childhood inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge? Could it be the ghostly remains of Jack the Ripper? Or a phantasm derived from a more arcane and insidious origin? Winnie begins to investigate, but John's erstwhile girlfriend, Allegra, is aggressively unhelpful, and his downstairs neighbor, the cat-obsessed Mrs. Maddingly, is growing stranger by the day. Gripped by inspiration and desperation alike, Winnie finds herself the unwilling audience for a drama of specters and shades, some from her family's peculiar history and some from her own unvanquished past.
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