Glinhaven by Deborah O'Toole is a traditional gothic fiction novel similar in style to classic 1970s paperbacks written by Dorothy Daniels, Marilyn Harris, Victoria Holt, Marilyn Ross (aka Dan Curtis), and Phyllis Whitney.


Piper Hunt leaves Boston to take over her grandfather's unique curio shop in Glinhaven. While adjusting to life in the quaint seaside village, she uncovers dark secrets hidden at the forbidding Glinhaven Monastery which may unlock mysteries from her past.

From Chapter Two

THE NEXT DAY WAS OVERCAST, threatening rain, but early fog was nearly dissipated by mid-morning. Piper drove her car along the main thoroughfare that led out of the village, making a left turn on North Shore Road. The two-lane blacktop led to the Glinhaven family mansion first, which was followed by the connecting spread of the monastery. As far as Piper knew, Lady Glinhaven lived alone at the mansion, along with her hired staff. Her husband had died from a heart attack more than three decades ago, and her only son was killed in an airplane crash a few years later.

She had dressed with care, wanting the confidence of looking her best when she spoke with Lady Glinhaven. For today's visit, Piper wore a dark blue pencil dress with cream pumps, and atop her head was a well-chosen midnight cloche hat with a burnt umber wrap-around.

The Glinhaven family mansion had overlooked its namesake-village for more than four centuries, reminiscent of the Elizabethan architecture from which it hailed. Long streams of ivy clung to the outer walls of the house, once burnished gold in autumn but now brittle and dead in winter. It gave the mansion a gray appearance, easily blending into the foggy mists that often permeated the estate.

The red-pink brick house was barely discernible underneath the ivy, virtually hiding the style of the structure. The estate was rather modest by modern standards, but it held an unmistakable elegant air. A circular driveway swept by the front of the house, in between which nestled a grass patch and small water fountain, now dormant. Bare trees dotted the landscape, pathetic and gnarled in the cold, their branches appearing like bony fingers reaching out to the mansion in supplication.

Piper drove her Honda Civic through the open gate, parking in the driveway near the front double doors. She had few memories of the mansion, although her mother worked there as a maid in her youth. To Piper, the mansion was the "spooky house on the hill" where crazy old Lady Glinhaven lived, a sentiment shared by most of her adolescent school chums - including Jude MacSween - from Glinhaven High. It was a common teenage dare to creep onto the estate grounds during idle summer months, always at night, and a thrill to retreat unscathed by imaginary ghostly specters or worse, the old woman herself.

The front doors of the mansion were opened by Roxby, whom Piper remembered. He had been the Glinhaven family's butler for years, his crusty countenance seemingly unchanged over time. No one in the village knew whether Roxby was his first or last name. He made frequent appearances at the local grocery store but rarely spoke to a soul. When he did utter a word or phrase, it came with the distinct remnants of a Scottish burr. He was of medium height and build, with a thin wisp of hair clinging stubbornly to his pate. His dark, coal eyes were striking and rather intimidating against his milky white flesh. A large, brown mole perched just over his upper lip, made somehow repulsive by his habit of touching the tip of his tongue to the growth every few minutes. However, he was impeccably dressed in typical black tie and tails, a gray vest emphasizing his thin middle.

"May I help you?" Roxby asked Piper formally, his eyes regarding her passively.

"Yes," Piper replied. "My name is Piper Hunt. I'd like to speak with Lady Glinhaven."

"Is Her Ladyship expecting you?"

"No, I'm afraid not. This is a rather spontaneous visit, but if you tell her I'm here I'm sure she'll see me."

Roxby nodded slightly. "Come in, Miss Hunt."

She stepped inside, immediately struck by the austerity of the dwelling. She stood in place as Roxby disappeared behind a set of double doors adjacent to the foyer. While well-tended and elegant, furnishings and carpets in the foyer showed obvious signs of wear. The grand estate was not shabby by any means, but it gave the impression of gentry gradually gone to seed. Piper wondered how Lady Glinhaven felt about that.

Roxby returned to the foyer quickly. Without a word, he motioned for Piper to follow him. He led her back behind the double doors, where they entered the drawing room of the mansion. Piper noticed a large white-curtained picture window overlooking the front of the estate, and a tall fireplace, which burned brightly with flame. In front of the fire sat Lady Glinhaven in her wheelchair, bony hands folded primly in her lap. Piper came forward slowly, feeling as if she were being presented to royalty and then mentally chiding herself for the brief lapse in self-confidence. The old woman regarded her stoically, her face as inscrutable as a statue.

"May I present Miss Piper Hunt," Roxby said formally.

Lady Glinhaven nodded. "Yes, we know one another, Roxby." She glanced at Piper. "Please have a seat," she said, motioning to a settee near the fireplace.

Roxby left the room quietly as Piper sat down on the brocaded cream and navy-colored settee, her eyes going to the older woman.

"May I offer you some refreshment?" Lady Glinhaven asked politely, the deepness of her voice dichotomous to her tiny frame. "A cup of tea, perhaps?"

Piper shook her head. "No, thank you. I won't be staying long."

"To what do I owe your visit?"

"I apologize for barging in on you without calling first," Piper began. "But I needed to have a word with you about . . ."

"No need to worry," Lady Glinhaven spoke abruptly. "It's not as if my social calendar is full at the moment. Please continue."

Piper came to the point. "Why do you want to buy The Thistle?"

Lady Glinhaven did not flinch, as if she fully expected the question. "The Thistle is an important historical landmark. I'm quite proud of Glinhaven Village, naturally, and I want to make sure our collective history is preserved."

"What makes you think I won't preserve my grandfather's legacy?" Piper prodded.

Lady Glinhaven shrugged. "It's not that I doubt your abilities, Piper. I just thought you were happy in Boston. It was my intention to relieve you of the burden of running a business so you could get on with your life. Glinhaven is not exactly a hotbed of youthful entertainment, as you well know."

"I was perfectly happy growing up in Glinhaven."

"Yet you left shortly after graduating from high school," Lady Glinhaven was quick to respond. "Apart from sporadic visits to see your grandfather, I haven't seen you moving back lock, stock and barrel. I think we both know the reasons why."

Piper regarded the old woman, taking in her steely eyes and rigid stance despite the wheelchair. "I'll never regret my time in Boston," she said softly. "But maybe I'm ready to come back to Glinhaven. The Thistle was my grandfather's pride and joy, and I can't see just tossing it away."

"You won't be tossing it away if you sell to me," Lady Glinhaven insisted. "You can keep your life in Boston, secure in the knowledge that your grandfather's lifework won't be compromised."

"The Thistle has been in my family for more than three-hundred-and-fifty years," Piper pointed out.

"I'm aware of that," Lady Glinhaven said crisply. "The Thistle will continue, regardless. It has been a local mainstay ever since my husband's family founded the village."

"The Thistle has been a mainstay ever since a Mochrie settled here," Piper broke in, unwilling to grant the older woman prominence in the pecking order of family importance.

Lady Glinhaven's smile was cold. "I'd hate to see your grandfather's shop sold to an outsider, to someone who might change things."

"There are several landmarks in Glinhaven," Piper noted. "Why focus on The Thistle?"

Lady Glinhaven regarded Piper passively for several seconds, her expression unreadable. Then she spoke, her tone measured but neutral. "Aside from my family home and the monastery, The Thistle is perhaps the oldest structure still standing in Glinhaven. I've always taken great interest in it."

"Since when?" Piper interrupted. "I don't recall ever seeing you in the shop. I grew up in Glinhaven. I was raised above the shop, so to speak. When did you ever take an interest in it?"

Lady Glinhaven's eyes narrowed. "My dear, you've spent many years away from Glinhaven. Perhaps you were not aware . . ."

"Aware of what, pray tell?" Piper snapped, interrupting the older woman again. "Grandfather never mentioned you when I called him or saw him in person. Not once in all those years."

Lady Glinhaven's face turned to ice. "Duncan had become quite forgetful in recent months. Perhaps he merely failed to mention my interest to you."

"Grandfather was certainly not forgetful," Piper scoffed, annoyed by the woman's implications. "He was as sharp as a tack, and then some."

The old woman's thin lips disappeared into a frown. "I didn't mean to upset you, my dear."

Piper leaned forward slightly. "Let's be frank, shall we? You aren't known to do things out of the goodness of your heart. Why do you really want The Thistle?"

Lady Glinhaven took on an injured air, her bony and blue-veined hand rising to rest against her throat. "I beg to differ, Piper. Must I remind you who keeps Glinhaven Monastery alive and well? Or that the local soup kitchen remains open because of me, not to mention the pension fund I established for disabled or retired fishermen?"

The old woman's self-serving litany irritated Piper further. "I agree you've contributed much to Glinhaven," she replied cryptically. "However, are the deeds so much to help people or are they done in exchange for moral debt and reluctant gratitude?"

"I have the best of intentions in all of my philanthropic endeavors," Lady Glinhaven insisted, although Piper sensed the latent anger and lack of sincerity in her tone. "I can assure you of that much."

Piper stared at the old woman, noting the barely-concealed disdain in her dark eyes and the unhappy curl of her lips. The Glinhaven matriarch was not accustomed to being refused by anyone, much less the upstart granddaughter of a local shopkeeper. Lady Glinhaven possessed an air of self-entitlement that she obviously felt was unspoken, and certainly not to be questioned or denied by a mere minion. The arrogance and irrational expectation repulsed Piper thoroughly.

She made her decision in that moment. "I can save you the trouble of badgering or buttering me up," she said strongly. "The Thistle is not for sale, nor will it ever be as long as I'm alive to keep it going."

Lady Glinhaven did not miss a beat. "I believe you are making a mistake, Piper, one of such great magnitude that it will change the course of your life forever."

Piper laughed harshly. "You're being a tad overly-dramatic, don't you think?"

The older woman offered a brittle smile. "As I indicated before, you are young with your whole life ahead of you. Surely you don't want to waste your fleeting youth in a small fishing village on the edge of nowhere. There's hardly a bright or exciting future awaiting you here."

"That's my decision to make," Piper rose from the settee. "The Thistle is much better off in my hands. No offense, but you are alone with no heirs. God only knows what might become of the place if something happened to you and the shop was held in legal limbo."

There was no mistaking the flash of virulent dislike in Lady Glinhaven's eyes, although she was quick to mask the enmity. "No need to become hostile, Piper. I meant you no harm."

Piper smiled sweetly. "No harm, no foul. Since I plan to stay in Glinhaven indefinitely, I'm sure we'll meet again."

Before Lady Glinhaven could respond, Piper turned and left the drawing room. She hurried across the foyer and out of the house, anxious to put distance between herself and the old woman. She was out of breath by the time she reached her car in front of the house. She slid into the driver's seat, momentarily resting her head on the steering wheel.

"I don't believe it," she muttered to herself as she started the car. "I just boxed myself into staying in Glinhaven." She sighed. "Maybe it's what I wanted all along, but Lady G's vague answers gave me the final push," she reasoned.

As she drove away, Piper glanced in the rearview mirror. Her mouth opened slightly as she spied Lady Glinhaven watching her from the drawing room window. The old woman sat in her wheelchair, gazing straight ahead as Piper disappeared from sight.

She felt an involuntary shiver go up her spine.


GLINHAVEN ©Deborah O'Toole. All rights reserved.

"Glinhaven" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Glinhaven" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.