This is the second in a series of historical thrillers about Penny Tredwell. Penny produces a magazine called Penny Dreadful in which the stories she writes appear under the name of Montgomery Flinch. There is a real Montgomery Flinch and he is an actor. When Monty is approached by Edward Gold who has a machine which can not only produce moving pictures but also colour and sound, Penny agrees that one of her stories can be filmed. This filming takes place on Dartmoor in a big house, near a mine, and it soon becomes clear that this camera does not only show living people but also those departed this life. Penny agrees to act in the film as Amelia but it turns out that Amelia’s ghost is determined to come back to life and that she is Edward Gold’s long dead girlfriend.
This is a fast paced story, full of action, twists and turns, though I have to confess that I spent a lot of it thinking that in 1900 films did not appear in colour or with people talking! This is all part of the clever set up however as the ending reveals! Penny is a suitably plucky heroine and the appearance of the ghosts in the film are quite creepy enough for the reader to believe in their existence, and add a frisson to the story. Edward Gold is a rounded villain, with a credible motivation. The one criticism is that the price of a still photo (with ghost) is advertised at 5 shillings which in 1900 would be beyond most people’s reach, especially at a fair, but the reader does feel back in the early days of cinema, and the last line is a gem!