Hunting the Phoenix
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Plot Summary: Journalist Alma Halsey chases the story of a lifetime to Providence, Rhode Island and finds more than she expected – an old lover, Charles Milburn, and an old adversary, renegade physician Herbert West, living under the name Francis Dexter. Fire throws her into proximity with them both, rekindling romance and completing a great transformation.
More Details: Middle-aged and cynical, journalist Alma Halsey looks back on the missed chances in her life with bitterness and regret. Revisiting her home town of Arkham, she comes into possession of a letter that changes everything. So what if it’s not addressed to her, but to her old flame, librarian Charles Milburn? Suddenly she’s chasing down a big story, and maybe she’ll reconnect with Charles as well.
Giving up her New York City life, Alma moves to Providence, Rhode Island and begins tracking down another man from her past – one she’s assumed to be dead for more than 15 years – none other than renegade physician Herbert West. It seems he’s living in Providence under the name Francis Dexter, and is once more engaged in nefarious doings. Once she’s gathered enough information, Alma plans to write an expose.
Things get complicated when Alma discovers that Charles Milburn is also in Providence, working for “Dr. Dexter,” and English neurosurgeon Edward Clapham-Lee is also looking for Herbert West. Everything goes wrong when the house she is living in catches fire. Seriously injured and far from home, Alma is forced to accept the hospitality of the man she has made her quarry. In Dexter’s house she finds healing, strangeness and unexpected friendships, and realizes that her real quarry is herself.
Alone with Dexter for several days, Alma has occasion to revisit her relationship with him and to discover the roots of her disaffection. Soon after Charles’s return from a business trip, the three repair to Cape Cod where they celebrate their renewed friendship, until the appearance of Edward Clapham-Lee – a man as amoral and dangerous as Dexter's former self – demands a return to Arkham for a final reckoning.
- Audrey Driscoll, June 2012
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