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Not a creature was stirring …

And that’s what you love about this time of year: late at night, it gets so quiet. You can almost imagine that you’re the only one awake in your town, that you’re the only person who keeps watch. You can pretend you’re all alone but, as in the new novel, “The Last to See Me” by M Dressler, are you, really?

Emma Rose knew who he was the minute she saw him.

He was a hunter, one who made it his work to send beings like her down to where worms and subterranean animals wiggled and scratched. She was well aware of his kind; she was wary but not concerned. As long as she didn’t allow herself to lose control or get angry, as long as she watched him, she could remain hidden.

She felt that she’d been hidden for most of her life.

Her mother died when she was born so she was raised by her Da, a workman just like most of the fellows in their northern California town. They were common folk, not at all like the Lambry men, whose wealth kept them above everyone else in Benito. The Lambrys snubbed people who spent their days doing honest work, washing and cleaning for lumberjacks who toiled on nearby hills. They snubbed people like her.

So on the night that she danced with Quint Lambry at the community hall, Emma Rose knew tongues would wag in Benito, but she didn’t care. She didn’t care when Quint’s mother found a job for her, far from town and far from Quint. It didn’t matter, because Quint rode miles to see her every week anyway.

That was a century ago — many lifetimes, in fact, including that belonging to Alice Lambry, the final resident of the Lambry Mansion. But with Alice now lying in her grave and the mansion up for sale, there was a problem: the cleansing that’d supposedly rid Benito of ghosts, missed the one who’d once been called Emma Rose Finnis.

But the hunter could never know that.

A name was power. His knowing hers could be the end.

What’s beneath your bed? Or behind you or above you? You’ll look, and then look again after you’ve read “The Last to See Me.”

That’s because this book is creepy — and it’s a little bit funny, in that shrieky-scared-for-a-minute-but-laugh-self-consciously way that actually means you’re still scared. Brace yourself: that’s going to last until the very last paragraph of this cat-and-mouse book, since author M Dressler takes us on a screaming, careening trip through a resort town’s history, the life of a brazen woman, and an old house in which characters are dead, or alive, or neither. Surprises? Expect them everywhere there’s potential for fear; indeed, Dressler knows how to make worms and flowers seem positively, dreadfully frightening, a talent that readers will come to adore.

As the nights get shorter and there’s less daylight, reach for something double-dark on a page. For you, “The Last to See Me” will stir you well.

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