This is a creepy book.  I remember reading it in the 1980’s sometime and being seriously freaked out by it.  My daughter read it some time ago, and she said it was scary.  I stuffed it in my bag en route to the Glasgow SF Writer’s Circle the other day (because it’s a slim volume) and read it again.
   I wasn’t spooked quite so much second time around, partly because I’d read it before, and partly because I was in an analytical frame of mind and noticed one or two things.  But don’t get me wrong.  If you see this book in a second-hand bookshop one day (it was originally published in about 1974), snap it up.  It is well worth a read.  The basic plot is that a man in a block of flats slowly being demolished by contractors starts to get weird visions and believes that someone is out to kill him.  His story is interposed with the story of another man who is undertaking genealogical research, trying to find descendents in the line of Joseph Tully.  We understand, though it is never explicitly stated, that man #2 is looking for man #1 with the intention of killing him as a spot of revenge for some horrible events hundreds of years ago (described in a prologue).  The approach is simple; the prose is clear and right on the nose.  Many – in fact most – of the events described in the book are pretty prosaic, yet a heavy air of menace overhangs everything.  The ending is left as a cliffhanger.
   The blurb says in more than one place that The Search for Joseph Tully is an example of Grand Guignol.  I confess I didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up.  Apparently it means “Drama that emphasizes the horrifying or the macabre”…… well, I am not sure that exactly applies, but I can see what they mean.
   The couple of things I noticed?  There were three things, really.  First, a lot of spookiness happened, but remained unexplained.  For example, another character in the book also experienced the same aural manifestation as the main character (a “whoosh” sound coming out of nowhere) – but it is never explained why he did, or why he ended up frozen to death in a deserted building.  Second, a lot of spookiness happened because there just happens to be a tarot reader and a medium in the neighbourhood, who came along to a farewell party thrown by the main character.  Plus an excommunicated monk who happens to know about hypnosis.  So an ominous tarot-reading and a scary séance are added to the mix, along with dire warnings from the monk and an eventual hypnosis session where – surprise, surprise – the original Joseph Tully appears under regression.  All of this seems a little manufactured, a bit convenient to the plot.  And thirdly, the genealogical research focussed on the issue of four brothers, and the second main character was able to establish fairly easily and quickly that three of them had no children.  This too seems too convenient – how likely is that to happen?
   These second thoughts aside, The Search for Joseph Tully is a weird little gem.  That reminds me, I must google William Hallahan and find out what happened to him!
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