Hidden gold is protected by ‘ghost’ in an abandoned old mansion

I’ve always loved the beauty of old houses. So when I saw Eva Pohler’s “Secrets of the Greek Revival,” I wanted to read it.

Ellen, Sue and Tanya have always been best friends. Now, empty-nester Sue resents her mother’s meddling, Tanya’s mother has dementia and Ellen’s mother has long had depression.

They decide they need a project. With the help of Ellen’s real estate agent husband, they purchase one of San Antonio’s old Greek revival relics. The outside was in poor condition, but it was sound inside. While inspecting the property, they see a ghostly white apparition. When they learn that six previous buyers bailed because of the “ghost girl,” they are more intrigued than frightened.

They hold a seance to try and communicate with the ghost. To their surprise, she appears but flees when their neighbor, Bud, arrives. They explain that they really want to know the history of the place before they decide how they want to restore it. Bud suggests they talk to his wife, Millie.

Millie and her mother have lived next door all their lives. What she tells them spurs them to internet searches, and they discover that the house had been built by Theodore and Alma Gold. They lived there with Alma’s sister, Inger. It was named the Gold House because it was rumored that Theodore buried gold on the property in case they fell on hard times.

Over the years many tried to find the gold, but none ever succeeded.

The house passed to Marcia Gold, who gave it to Dr. Jonathon Piers in exchange for long-term care. He turned it into a mental hospital, and she was a patient.

Millie had shared what she knew about the horrific ways that patients were “treated” and the scandal where Dr. Piers killed himself to avoid prosecution. His son, Johnny, then continued the evil treatments. Johnny died without known heirs, so the property went to the State of Texas.

Things open up when Sue discovers a diary in an old trunk. It clarifies the twisted relationships that developed inside that old house. Ellen is now certain that the ghost is a real person. With the reluctant help of Bud, Ellen learns that the “ghost” is a young woman named Amy. When the authorities shut down the hospital, they took her mother, Cynthia, to the State Hospital, but Cynthia told Amy to hide in the attic until she could come get her. Little Amy survived by stealing food from the neighbors. Eventually Bud was able to befriend her. It was his idea for her to become a “ghost” to frighten buyers.

With help from Sue’s mother, they find Cynthia in the State Hospital, but she can’t be released without her doctor’s approval. When Mitchell Clark learns that Cynthia is alive, he breaks down, telling them that he always loved her and thought she was dead. He also understands the map to the gold. To their amazement, it is there and worth a bundle. It is agreed that the money will be divided equally between Mitchell, Cynthia and the friends, with a sizable trust fund set aside for Amy.

Now they have to find a way to get Cynthia reunited with Amy and Mitchell, then get her released so she can live the life she was denied. As they untangle the long and sordid history of Gold House, they begin to understand the terrible wrongs committed in the name of medicine. Those wrongs can’t be undone, but the three friends turn the now-beautiful Gold House into a museum to honor the patients who once suffered there. At the same time, the three friends learn a lot about themselves, their relationships and the value of family ties and friendships.

This was a good story with lots of interesting subplots mixed in. I’m ready for book No. 2.

History isn’t just stale names and dates. It is who we are and where we came from. Your public library has lots of fine books for you to try. Make plans to check it out.

“Secrets of the Greek Revival”
AUTHOR: Eva Pohler
PUBLISHER: Green Press
PUBLISHED: Dec. 12, 2015
PAGES: 331