Doors that won’t stay closed. Lights that turn on by themselves. Household items that disappear and reappear, and the sound of footsteps when nobody’s there. Author D.M. Pulley stirs all the elements of a classic haunted house story into “No One’s Home,” in which four families suffer misery and terror in a 1922 colonial mansion in Shaker Heights.

The present-day Spielmans are relocating from their upscale Boston suburb. With just Myron, a surgeon, his wife Margot and their morose 15-year-old son Hunter, they have no need for such an enormous house, but the price is astonishingly low. Then they go inside: The house, vacant for years, has been vandalized and infested. Spray-painted graffiti in the second-floor hall reads “Murder House!” but the real estate agent says the “rumors are unsubstantiated.” Despite the work needed, the structure is good and the Spielmans buy Rawlingswood.

In a flashback to 1929, the original owners Walter and Georgina Rawlings host a dinner party. The guests drink forbidden liquor and discuss safe topics. The stock market isn’t a safe topic. Georgina has invited a special guest: Ninny Boyd was a member of the Shaker community near the site of the home, and tells the assembly that “the dead do not rest so easy here” because “they died the wrong way.”

The Spielmans preserve the house’s original plaster and wood floors but gut the kitchen. Margot directs her contractor to follow a TV home remodeling show for an Early American feel, including marble and stainless steel beams. She will wallpaper the closet in Hunter’s room to conceal the words written there, including “DeAD GiRL!” and I KiLLeD iT! BAD BeNNy!” Margot plans her studio, where she webcasts a yoga program to some special viewers.

Ava and Toby, previous occupants, hide from Papa Martin. Ava has become especially proficient at finding narrow crannies in the huge house. A decade before that, Franny tries desperately to connect with Benny, her nonverbal son, who has frequent seizures. Benny worries about the people he sees through his window.

In the present day, lonely Hunter Spielman worries about the writing in his closet, which never did get wallpapered over, and Skypes with his friend in Boston about the meaning of “BeNNy KiLL” and “sorry so sorry DeAD GiRL.” Myron Spielman worries about things he thinks he sees over his shoulder but doesn’t dare mention his fears to his family, lest they look too hard at his other secrets.

Pulley excels at building suspense and caroming the narrative from one timeline to another, keeping the reader off balance about the occupants of Rawlingswood, whether shadow or light.

D.M. Pulley will read from “No One’s Home” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hudson Library & Historical Society, 96 Library St. Register at 330-653-6658. Her debut mystery “The Dead Key” won the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Award.

 

Events

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Carol Amos talks about “H.O.P.E. for the Alzheimer’s Journey: Help, Organization, Preparation, and Education for the Road Ahead,” 3 p.m. Sunday.

Rodman Public Library (1600 Hampton Road, Alliance): Terry Pluto talks about his sports books, including “The Browns Blues – Two Decades of Utter Frustration: Why Everything Kept Going Wrong for the Cleveland Browns,” 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (3512 Darrow Road, Stow): Tim Carroll discusses “World War II Akron,” 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Libraries (Coventry Village branch, 1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Lyndhurst author Mary Doria Russell discusses “The Women of the Copper Country,” about the leader of a 1913 strike against a copper mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Canton Palace Theatre (605 Market Ave. N.): Former "20/20" and "Good Morning America" news anchor Elizabeth Vargas joins the Dr. Audrey Lavin Speaking of Books Author Series, talking about “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction,” 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Register at events.starklibrary.org or 330-452-0665.

Reed Memorial Library (167 E. Main St., Ravenna): Dede Mulligan discusses her thriller “Safety in Numbers,” about an executive who uncovers a conspiracy at her firm, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Visible Voice (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Steven Manheim signs “Blues Musicians of the Mississippi Delta,” 8 p.m. Saturday.

Morley Library (184 Phelps St., Painesville): D.M. Pulley talks about “No One’s Home,” 11 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Jill Grunenwald discusses “Reading Behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian,” 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Medina County Public Library (210 S. Broadway St.): Erin O’Brien, author (with photographer Bob Perkoski) of “Rust Belt Burlesque: The Softer Side of a Heavy Metal Town,” talks from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Register at 330-725-0588.

Warren-Trumbull County Public Library (Warren branch, 444 Mahoning Ave. NW): Jane Ann Turzillo signs “Wicked Women of Ohio,” 2 p.m. Saturday.

Warren-Trumbull County Public Library (Cortland branch, 578 Lakeview Drive): Julie Thompson discusses “The Hunt for the Last Public Enemy in Northeastern Ohio: Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis and the Road to Alcatraz,” 2 p.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble (198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake): Steven Manheim signs “Blues Musicians of the Mississippi Delta,” 5 p.m. Saturday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.): Advance notice to register for Linwood Barclay, who will talk about his new thriller “Elevator Pitch” on Sept. 17. There is a waiting list for “Dead Man Walking” author Helen Prejean, who will talk about her new book “River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey” on Sept. 19, but a simulcast will be available in another room, and she will sign books after the program in the rotunda. Register at 330-653-6658 or hudsonlibrary.org.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or bjnews@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.