It’s impossible not to like Hattie Hastings.
She’s a very ordinary, very happily married woman, who loves her husband Gary to bits even if he drives her up the wall at times.
And when tragedy strikes – Gary dies after a drunk driver smashes into him as he puts the dustbin out, ready for the morning bin collection, leaving Hattie alone and heartbroken, she does her best to hold things together for the sake of Johnny, their university drop-out son.
She’s equally stoical – wobbly legs aside – when ghostly Gary returns, wearing drainpipe jeans and the ‘Bowie T-shirt he’d had since his twenties and refused to bin despite it having more holes than OJ Simpson’s defence plea’.
And that’s why I loved this book: witty, clever writing.
The plot, if I’m honest, is a little thin – it boils down to Hattie struggling to convince friends and family that Gary is back. But nobody will believe her, especially as Gary can’t seem to control when and where he turns up.
There’s a sub-plot involving best friend Cat – now free from the cruel and controlling Stewart – who also refuses to believe her.
All of which doesn’t add up to much, but author Audrey Davis is a deft hand at pithy descriptions and funny one liners which more than compensate.
Here, for instance, is her description of layabout Johnny: ‘Opening the door, her [Hattie’s] nostrils tried to seal themselves as ‘eau de Johnny’ became overpowering.
‘Her delightful offspring had cooked himself a feast of instant noodles, something with eggs (judging by the plethora of shells decorating the worktop) and a chunk of blue cheese, the remnants of which lay oozing like the innards of a dead alien.
He’d also managed to burn several slices of toast, their smoky haze still lingering in the air.’
Can’t you just picture it? And smell it too?
And what about this? ‘Even in his otherworldly form, Gary still spoke like a sixties stoner. Then again, did she expect him to sound like a toff from Downton Abbey?
‘He’d died, not gone to RADA.’
The blurb promises The Haunting of Hattie Hastings will make readers laugh, cry and count down until Part Two
Well, I didn’t cry but I did laugh and I am counting the days until Part Two, which will be published on March 21.
A gloriously ghostly debut.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.