There are several books called Possession, but the one I'm talking about today was published by L.P. Davies in 1975. Davies is a writer who swerved around several genres over the years - crime, sci-fi, horror, and so on - and he caught my interest a long time ago, but it took me ages to get around to reading him. My interest quickened after I read a a very positive review of the novel by one of the best bloggers around, John Norris, and not long after that, I picked up an inscribed American edition cheaply at a book fair. And now I've finally read it.
One of the things that appeals to me about Davies is that he was a Cheshireman and it's clear that he had strong links with Wales, where some of his stories are set. However, in later life he moved to the Canary Isles (and in fact my copy of the book was inscribed in Tenerife) and this particular story is set in Wiltshire, in the neighbourhood of Devizes.
The story begins with the desecration of a grave in a quiet churchyard and it's immediately clear that this is not the first time such a thing has happened - there's a cryptic reference to 'that Macumba thing'. The grave belonged to Eddie Astey, recently killed in a motorbike accident, and when Eddie's brother Morgan arrives on the scene, it becomes evident that mystery surrounds the accident and Eddie's life - and in particular his friendship with a man called Garvey - before it occurred.
For me, the early part of the story, as Morgan begins his tentative investigations, was more effective than the later part. One of the difficulties was a dust jacket blurb that gave far too much away - I'd expect better of the Doubleday Crime Club. Another is the oddity of the storyline and the uncertainty as to whether this is indeed a crime story, as most of us understand that term, or a work of horror or the supernatural. It's an unusual story, with an interesting idea at his heart, but the execution is flawed in a number of respects (to explain why would be too much of a spoiler). However, Davies continues to intrigue me and I'd be glad to read more of his work.