Sylvie's parents have an unusual profession, they help people who belief they are haunted by demons. They are devoutly religious people and have two daughters, one who they believe is "good" and the other one. Sylvie is the "good" one. One night her parents receive a call in the middle of night to meet their oldest daughter Rose at a church in town. They wake Sylvie, drive to the church in the middle of a snowstorm and go inside. When they don't come out, Sylvie goes inside to discover them dead on the alter, murdered and she's the only witness.
Sylvie is not sure who she saw in the church or who killed her parents, and as her life unravels, she thinks back upon her family life to discover within her what her mother already knew.
"You know the truth already. What I will say is this: each of us is born into this life with a light inside of us. Some, like yours, burn brighter than others. You don't see that yet, but I do. What's most important is to never let that light go out, because when you do, it means you've lost yourself to the darkness. It means you've lost your hope. And hope is what makes this world a beautiful place."
The novel is told in alternating chapters as Sylvie tries to unravel the mystery of who killed her parents juxtaposed with events that happened in her childhood and the people her parents tried to help. Help for the Haunted is a unique, paranormal mystery. It is also a coming of age story. I tend not to like traditional mysteries and Help for the Haunted is not a traditional mystery. Searles reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock.
I love a book where I can't figure out whodunit and John Searles kept me guessing right up to the end. I swear, I didn't see the ending coming and that rarely happens to me.
Help for the Haunted is the perfect read for a haunted October.
Just don't answer the phone if it rings in the middle of the night.
It could be one of John Searles characters calling.