The Gate of Air, By James Buchan

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The Independent Culture

This may be billed as a contemporary ghost story, but there are times when Buchan's narrative suggests the stylistic flourishes of an earlier era. Having been ousted from his job, software engineer Jim Smith decamps to a remote stately pile in the West Country.

Despite his ignorance of rural life, he takes on livestock, farm-hands and a dog. One night he's visited by the house's former chatelaine, Jean Lampard, a model who disappeared in 1967. The chic succubus brings destruction in her wake: pigs perish and crops fail. While Buchan's landscapes breathe mystery, Jim's bland presence is more chilling than any ghost.