House of Many Shadows was written by Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Mertz in 1974. I couldn't remember when I had last read this book, but I know I read it for the first time soon after it was published. And I decided to reread it when Katherine of I Wish I Lived In A Library told me it was her favorite go-to book when she was in a reading slump.
First, a little about Barbara Michaels. She was actually Barbara Mertz, a highly educated woman with a PhD in Egyptology from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. She received that doctorate in 1952. I suspect there were few other women receiving that same degree at that time. She married and had two children, Elizabeth and Peter. She wrote 30 books under the name Barbara Michaels. These are more thriller type books, many with a supernatural element. Her pseudonym of Elizabeth Peters had 38 mystery suspense books published. And Dr. Mertz wrote nonfiction on archaeology. She said she found the various personas irritating, but her publishers at the time wanted to distinguish between the types of books. Barbara Mertz died in 2013.
House of Many Shadows falls into the category of romantic suspense, with a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. It's set in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Meg Rittenhouse has been ill and her distant cousin, Sylvia, has a big house full of antiques that she needs someone to organize and catalog. Sylvia agrees to have Meg spend some time there in order to recover from her head injury, which has produced hallucinations, both visual and audio. There is also a caretaker on the property, Andy Brenner. Andy is Sylvia's stepson and he has also had some challenges. Andy and Meg had known each other as children when Meg visited Sylvia and her husband, George, and Andy made Meg's life a trial. Little boys and little girls - one teasing and tormenting the other. That's what Meg remembers about Andy.
As the story develops, Meg starts working on her furniture challenge and all goes well for a bit. Then she starts seeing things - ghostly things. Actually, it only happens when she and Andy are together. She's worried that she isn't recovering from her head injury, but soon finds out that Andy is seeing the same 'ghosts'. And so begins their quest to find out what has happened at this location in years past. There are some answers in the attic and some in the town. However, there is also someone who has a grudge against both Meg and Andy and that person isn't going away. Someone has died in this location and if they can't figure out the puzzle, another crime may be committed soon.
The story is a little dated, of course. However, the humor was still present. The banter between Meg and Andy was still fun. The apparitions were still spooky, and I had a great time reacquainting myself with all the twists and turns. I'm very glad I decided on a reread and now, I'm thinking of rereading more of this author's works. Should I read Search the Shadows, set at the Oriental Institute in Chicago soon? Or should I read The Crying Child, set on an island off the coast of Maine? Have an opinion? Well, we'll see what appeals to me next.