Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
Former silent screen movie star Eva Dupree is dying. The kidney cancer is incapacitating at times and she needs to find a cure. Mostly alone in the world, her husband has passed away, leaving her with Ivan, the cat, and her personal maid, Rose Freeman. At the doctor’s office, she finds a pamphlet from The Baker Hospital and Health Resort in Eureka Springs Arkansas. The hospital, run by Norman Baker, guarantees the cure of cancers of all kinds. Against her doctor’s wishes, Eva, along with Rose and Ivan, travels to the hospital and checks in.
The treatments are brutal, the pain from her cancer overwhelming, but Eva also finds friendships with some of the other patients, including a six year old named Trudy, a man named Stephan Janowitz, and Mossell Knight, who managed to make friends with Eva. As she learns about the hospital and the people who live and work there, she begins to find odd things happening, hearing voices of people who weren’t there, seeing a woman jump from an upper balcony only to find no body on the ground below. When she asks about these things, the nurses tell her it’s her imagination.
Eva’s not too sure and soon she begins to wonder if the unorthodox cure Mr. Baker promises will kill the cancer isn’t also killing the patients. The hospital seems to be teaming with ghosts, some benevolent, others not nice at all. She begins to wonder if her sanity is dying right along with her body. She has to search to find answers without cluing Mr. Baker and the staff of the hospital that she’s having doubts and before she finds herself dead.
I met the author, Dusty Rainbolt, at FenCon in Dallas in September. We shared an author autograph table. As we chatted about paranormal writing and the fact both of us have cats as characters, I flipped through the books she had with her. I love a good ghost story so I picked up a Kindle copy of Death Under the Crescent Moon and her other book, Ghost Cats. I read Ghost Cats first, which contained stories of family pets that had passed away but came back to say goodbye. Then I launched into Death Under the Crescent Moon and couldn’t put it down. I ended up reading it in two days, staying up all night during a thunderstorm trying to figure out the mystery that Eva was trying to unravel. The hospital reminded me of the one in the Matthew Broderick movie TheRoad to Wellville, with The Canterville Ghost haunting the place. I can really see this novel as a movie.
Her characters are well rounded, well written, and Eva is a very gutsy woman. I loved Rose, her maid, and the touches of history around the hospital are wonderful. The story takes place in the 1930s, during the beginning of the Second World War and Rose, as a black woman, is unable to do some things because of the racial laws of the time period. All of the history is well researched and crafted, blending seamlessly with the ghost story around the hospital.
The ending, with the twist that I didn’t see coming, was entirely satisfying as well. I give this one a 5-star rating and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good paranormal thriller.