What I Found at Hoole - Jeffrey E. Barlough At last Jeffrey Barlough has returned to the darker (and, to my mind, more interesting) themes of the first books in the Western Lights series, though he hasn't quite plumbed the horrific depths of [b:The House in the High Wood: A Story of Old Talbotshire|1560536|The House in the High Wood A Story of Old Talbotshire (Western Lights, #2)|Jeffrey E. Barlough|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1185232506s/1560536.jpg|1553074] or [b:Strange Cargo|1221613|Strange Cargo (Western Lights, #3)|Jeffrey E. Barlough|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309206536s/1221613.jpg|1210100].

Our story takes us to the Ayleshire village of Hoole, in the uplands of the Sundered Realm, where Ingram Somervell's uncle, Henry Clement, has died, leaving his estate to his ward, Petra Solsguard, and a small mill to his nephew. Ingram comes to Hoole to settle his portion of the estate and soon discovers that his uncle's death was not so straightforward as it appears, and that Petra is not quite who she seems. The story is written on two levels. First, there is what turns out to be a rather squalid tale of grift involving Petra, the good Doctor Fels and a scheme to acquire the Clement estate and its wealth. On a second level, there is the Lovecraftian tale of ancient powers working unseen and for whom humans are tools, if noticed at all.

Barlough could have done more with the "unreliable narrator" theme: Barlough tells the story from Ingram's point of view, and it's established early on that he has suffered a head wound and is having odd dreams. And, as I mentioned, the Lovecraft elements could have been more pronounced; Squire Turnthirsty could have been far more sinister than he turns out to be.

Barlough's overt humor is largely suppressed in this entry, though he does have some fun with the names of the attorneys who are contesting Henry Clement's will: Rackham and Lash, and the reputable firm of Outlast, Parry and DeLay.

Overall, a pretty good entry in the series and recommended (start w/ the books mentioned above or the first book - [b:Dark Sleeper|1193347|Dark Sleeper (Western Lights, #1)|Jeffrey E. Barlough|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1181777444s/1193347.jpg|1181399] - they're all standalones but these three give you the best exposure to both Barlough's tragic and comedic strengths).