Anthropology professor Duncan Clarke must get a handle on his anxiety disorder by the end of Christmas break, or risk losing the position to which he has tirelessly devoted himself for decades. When Clarke intercepts a box of macabre curiosities intended for the university, he discovers a travel journal from 1865 containing the frantic scribblings of Edward Walker, an eccentric Victorian curiosity dealer. Tucked within the journal is a disturbing drawing of a young boy, “Specimen Z”, the apparent victim of a Haitian Vodou witch doctor.
Desperate to salvage his professional career and to discover the fate of the mysterious boy, Clarke follows clues left by the gruesome relics of his predecessor’s collection to discover the dark secret Walker kept in his basement, and his connection to the brutal crimes that terrorized London. Clarke’s holiday pastime becomes an all-consuming obsession as he begins to understand the chilling implications of the journal and the horror that ties his fate to Walker’s—for Clarke will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even at the cost of his career, his family, and his very life.
“An absolutely riveting gothic horror with a Victorian flare. Melanie Cossey has created a beautifully eerie story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.”
– Jamie Zakian, author of the Ashby Holler series
“Melanie [Cossey]’s writing is vivid, almost shocking. She hits you right between the eyes and pulls you back to the 1800s.”
– Frank Talaber, author of the Stillwaters Run Deep series