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Cover for The Winter Guest

The Winter Guest

A Mystery

W. C. Ryan


List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A haunting, atmospheric mystery set against a country divided, by the author of A House of Ghosts.

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts, both real and imagined, while it shelters the surviving members of the Prendeville family. Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, Lord Kilcolgan’s eldest daughter, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column behind the attack insists they left her alive, that someone else must be responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud's former fiancé, is sent to investigate. He becomes an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house's secrets—and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find the truth about Maud's death before the past—and his strange, unnerving surroundings—overwhelm him?

The Winter Guest is a gripping and immersive read for fans of classic mysteries by the likes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers along with Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series, Ann Cleeves, and Jacqueline Winspear.

Praise For The Winter Guest: A Mystery

A stunning book, beautifully written. . . .  I’m haunted by it. . . . I felt the chill of the house and the sadness of the situation. And cheered at the end.”—Ann Cleeves, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series
“A perfectly crafted mystery that evokes the precise chilly atmosphere of Ireland after the Great War, limping towards independence through blood sacrifice and brutality. Vivid, compelling and deeply moving, it is a triumph both as a crime novel and a work of historical fiction.”—Jane Casey, Sunday Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Maeve Kerrigan series
“Haunting and exquisitely written. Part intricate mystery and part ghost story. This book will stay with me for a long time.”—Anna Mazzola, author of The Unseeing
A haunting, gripping novel . . . hugely evocative, with some absolutely beautiful writing which captures the profound unease of the times and the bleak nature of the landscape. I really loved this book.”—Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den
Works superbly on several levels. . . . This is a most welcome winter guest indeed, to be greeted by the fire with drink in hand.”—Irish Times

"A treat . . .W. C. Ryan evokes this moody, gothic atmosphere with convincing skill. Harkin is a sensitive, complex character and his quest to solve the mystery is deftly plotted."—Times (London)

"A ripping yarn . . . Deft and assured. . . . Like le Carré, Ryan’s novels converge at the point where crime fiction, the historical novel and the spy thriller intersect. . . John Buchan [is] another writer with whom Ryan shares an affinity."Sunday Times (London)

"A serendipitously timed, impeccably researched and utterly intriguing historical mystery that lays bare the societal fractures caused in Ireland’s fight for freedom."—Irish Independent

"Wickedly clever . . . A tasty, Irish-flavoured cocktail of murder and mystery, liberally sprinkled with spooky atmospherics and best read in the glow of a roaring fire. . . . Perfectly pitched, The Winter Guest is a multi-layered, twisting turning masterpiece that moves deftly through a claustrophobic miasma of bitter recriminations, divided loyalties, ghostly shadows, deadly deeds, dangerous double-crossing, and thrills that chill to the bone."—Lancashire Evening Post

"Both a sobering, salutary Irish history lesson and a clever whodunnit with a bracing whiff of the supernatural."—Daily Express

A beautifully taut and evocative thriller.”—Sarah Hilary, author of the Marnie Rome series

“Superb . . . I could not put it down.”—Elizabeth Buchan, international bestselling author

“Atmospheric and genuinely eerie, this is an ideal winter read.”—Sinead Crowley, bestselling author of the DS Claire Boyle series

“A terrifically atmospheric, gripping novel.”—Amanda Craig, author of The Golden Rule

Haunting, beautifully crafted, and full of heart. Perfect reading for dark days.”—A. K. Benedict, author of The Christmas Murder Game

“Beautifully written, haunting and unmissable.”—Cass Green, bestselling author of The Woman Next Door

“Excellent murder mystery/ghost story set during the Irish war of independence and as usual with W.C. Ryan, beautifully written.”—Liz Nugent, international bestselling author of Lying in Wait

“Intriguing, haunting, romantic and beautifully written, I cared as much about the fate of the characters as about the gripping mystery.”—Laura Marshall, Sunday Times bestselling author
Finalist for the NBA Irish Book Awards Crime Fiction Book of the Year

"I don’t say this lightly: A House of Ghosts is one of the best books I’ve read this year. . . . A House of Ghosts is a throwback in the best of ways. Ryan uses tropes and framework made classic by the likes of Christie and Sayers to crafta cunning, many-tiered story that, paradoxically, feels both fresh and familiar. This is a ghostly big house mystery that’s cozy and invigorating."Criminal Element

"This unconventional historical mystery combines spies, ghosts, and wartime in a riveting Agatha Christie–type story that tells of the tragedy of a lost generation. . . . Seems designed for fans of Charles Todd’s 'Ian Rutledge' books."—Library Journal, starred review

"A ripping yarn . . . Agatha Christie fans will have fun."—Publishers Weekly

"Ryan pulls out all the stops. . . . There'll be séances, unmaskings, things that go bump in the night, voices from beyond the grave, and revelations of several different characters' unsuspectedly dark connections to the Great War. Throughout the alarums and excursions, the low-maintenance heroine maintains a composure that should serve her well in the promised series."—Kirkus Reviews

"A promising mix of supernatural and historical thriller."—Booklist

“A genre-blending fusion of old-school ‘big house’ mystery, romantic suspense, and spine-tingler. There’s plenty of conventionally spooky fun to be had—secret passages, apparitions and the like—but what gives this book real atmosphere isn’t so much the jump scares as the well-rendered pathos of a country struggling to come to terms with the loss of a generation.”—Guardian
“A delightfully old-school Agatha Christie-style mystery with a supernatural element . . . Wonderfully written and a jolly good read.”—Sunday Independent
“An enjoyable ghostly whodunnit.”—The Times
“An intelligent, absorbing, exquisitely spooky mystery.”—Irish Times

“An atmospheric, hugely entertaining mystery that offers all the pleasures of a classic ghost story - with an appealing dash of romance. William Ryan is a wonderful storyteller and A House of Ghosts will keep you up reading (and shivering) deep into the night.”—Antonia Hodgson, winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award

“A thoroughly enjoyable novel that seemed to combine all my favourite things—history, crime, entertainingly spiky romance and an eerily evocative setting. An absolute treat.”—Elly Griffiths, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award

“A splendid tale of wartime skulduggery, featuring both kinds of spooks—perfect fireside reading.” —Mick Herron, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award

“If you are feeling brave, A House of Ghosts is one to read by candlelight with a large gin and tonic on standby. Almost unbearably creepy and beautifully written, the claustrophobic atmosphere will have you running into open fields as soon as dawn breaks. Bravo!”—Liz Nugent, author of Lying in Wait

“W. C. Ryan makes the familiar World War I country-house setting feel immediate, with a tough but principled hero and a rogue's gallery of villains of all classes and kinds. Hugely enjoyable, A House of Ghosts has the bones of a taut thriller wrapped up in the gorgeous romance of its ghostly island setting.”—Jane Casey, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award

“A truly creepy and ingenious ghost story and murder mystery with an irresistible setting. From the first page you know you are in the hands of an excellent writer.”—Ragnar Jonasson, author of the Dark Iceland Series

“Taut and poetic pose, engaging protagonists, a page-turning plot and an evocative setting—making for another atmospheric and thrilling read . . . A spooky romantic read that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, crime, ghost and spy novels alike.”—The Lady

“Spooks, spies, seances, things that go bump in the night - A House of Ghosts has it all. A tremendously enjoyable, ingeniously-plotted take on the haunted house mystery. Best read before dark!”— Tammy Cohen, author of Dying for Christmas

“Shiver inducing beautifully written and immersive story—think Agatha Christie meets M. R. James but done in Mr. Ryan's own indomitable style.”—Liz Loves Books

“An elegantly constructed take on a historical spy novel, one that has just the right touch of the gothic.”—Shots Mag

“A new twist to an old tale ... I hope that we will get to see what happens in their next adventure—the ending left some room for a sequel, which I would very happily read!”—A Storm of Pages

“A stunning novel, a thoroughly absorbing read that combines a chilling ghost story . . . As the evenings draw in, A House of Ghosts is the perfect read. It's so easy to lose yourself in it. It's beautifully written . . . impossible to put down.”—For Winter Nights

“A captivating read . . . classic crime that lovers of Christie will lap up.”—My Weekly

“A multi-layered, gothic masterpiece . . . entertaining, thought-provoking and utterly captivating.”—Lancashire Evening Post

“A classic murder mystery set in a haunted house—this stylish tale will be a perfect read for this winter.”—Sunday People

“Beautifully written and ingenious period piece combines history, crime and an entertainingly spiky romance, all in an eerily evocative setting. Spooks, spies, seances, things that go bump in the night—Ryan has it all in this tremendously enjoyable take on the haunted house mystery.”—Crime Review

“A gripping mystery with a classic feel.”—Crime Readers' Association

Arcade Crimewise, 9781956763164, 336pp.

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

About the Author

W. C. Ryan is also known as William Ryan, who has won acclaim for his historical crime novels in the Captain Korolev series. The first book, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for a Crime Writers' Association’s New Blood Dagger, a Barry Award, the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, and the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year. The second, The Bloody Meadow, was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year, and the third, The Twelfth Department, was also shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year as well as the CWA’s Historical Fiction Dagger and was a Guardian Crime Novel of the Year. His books have been published in eighteen countries. William lives in London and teaches creative writing at City University.