In her historical mystery The Voice Upstairs, Laura E. Weymouth tells a riveting ghost story with plot twists that keep the reader intrigued and engaged until the surprising ending.

Under the influence of Weymouth’s pen, Wilhelmina Price (aka Wil) and Edison Summerfield (aka Ed) serve as protagonists and the voices that carry the story, which is set in 1920s England, forward. Triggered by her mother’s passing, Wil develops a death sense, which enables her to see a soul leave a body prior to death. She can also slip into the shadowland—the world between life and death—where she can lend her body and voice to a restless spirit whose story begs to be told.

Because of her unusual ability, Wil has few friends beyond the deep and abiding friendship with Ed. Few people besides Ed find this ability fascinating. For Wil, it is more a curse.

Ed, a Summerfield with rank and title, comes from a vastly different social class than his childhood friend, Wil, whose mother worked as a servant in the Summerfield home. Here, too, Wil’s grandfather, John Shepherd, serves as the house manager or butler.

A philosopher and a scientist in his interests, Ed knows what is expected of him and works to fulfill those expectations. He sees himself as one of the small cogs in the Summerfield family: “grinding along repetitive tracks to maintain the smooth operation of their family and estate” (21). When life gets overwhelming, he relies on his motto: Surgite: Press On. The one steady rock upon whom he can depend is Wil.

When the two discover that their friendship has grown into something more, they hesitate due to the potential for social reprisal. While the Summerfields’ world is one of artifice and excess and superficiality” (41), Wil lives a simpler life beyond pretense. However, both are haunted by ghosts.

After a housemaid dies in the same manner as her mother, Wil is determined to discover the cause of their deaths and to determine if they are connected. To best do her investigative work, she applies for a position at the Summerfield estate. Although Ed is against the idea, refusing Wil is not something he has ever been able to do. Wil’s grandfather also abhors the notion of his granddaughter working where he could not protect his own daughter. For Ed’s part, he wants better for Wil than to wait on his family. Yet, Wil doesn’t think herself any more deserving of life’s benefits than others who make their living in service.

Straight-forward, brilliant, methodical, relentless, and an advocate for the voiceless, Wil vows she won’t let cowardice or money stand in her way of doing what’s right. She reminds Ed that she is not working at Wither Grange for her own gains but for information about the deaths of her mother, Mabel Price, and the housemaid Jenny Bright. She plans to discover who killed them and to see justice is done. That Wil is intent upon learning the Grange’s hidden truth and dragging old sins to light both appalls and fortifies Ed, who has long felt that something at the Grange was amiss.

As the sleuthing begins, guilt points in multiple directions with the butler, Wil’s own grandfather, and Peter, Ed’s dead brother, being primary suspects. Other people also look culpable, but Wil is determined to lay the ghosts to rest while also managing the multiple secrets she unearths.

With the story’s progress, both Wil and Ed learn that a great amount of courage is required to be entirely honest and that silence is easier than acknowledging that the estate’s secrets may be too much for them to bear. Just as much as Ed wants “to see the best in his family—to think they could grow together and get past the darkness and difficulties that had plagued them other the years” (252), Wil won’t rest until the truth is out and justice is served.

  • Posted by Donna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.