The Hitman's Daughter

This Gothic mystery (350 pages) was published in March of 2022 by Agora Books. The book takes you to a posh hotel during a blizzard. David read The Hitman's Daughter and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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The Hitman's Daughter

Carolyne Topdjian

Here’s the pitch; dare you to resist. This is an eerily-fun gothic horror novel set at a past-its-prime luxury hotel — written by an author who lives in a 112-year-old haunted house.

Welcome to the Château du Ciel, a crumbling grand hotel in the mountains of Colorado. It was a playground for the fabulously wealthy — to ski and drink and hobnob — but that was decades ago. Although parts of the hotel have been shut down for years, the staff is still welcoming guests; these days, it’s mostly hunters in flannel.

But this year, on New Year’s Eve, the hotel is attempting a return to old form with an epic bash. ‘The season has come for an unforgettable celebration,’ the invitation reads in gilt. ‘Ring in the New Year in opulence at our Centennial Diamond Ball.’ There will be champagne cocktails, an eight-course dinner, and dancing to the dulcet sounds of an orchestra.

This unforgettable night also happens to be the birthday of our heroine Maeve Michael. She’s the hitman’s daughter of the title, currently on the run from her past and working as a sales clerk in the hotel boutique.

Dressed to the nines for the gala, she rides the rickety elevator to the 23rd floor to meet with an eccentric, elderly artist named Birdie. As she walks down the hall, the electricity cycles, making the wall sconces blink on and off. When her knock on the door goes unanswered, she enters the room. A blizzard rages outside the windows. Curtains blow in the wind of an open window. And as Maeve moves to close them — she trips over Birdie. Dead on the floor.

Who better to blame for a murder than a hitman’s daughter?

Maeve sets out to prove her innocence and save herself, getting into all manner of delightfully Gothic mischief along the way.

There’s a powerful and wealthy family with dark secrets. There are ghosts, and people who might be ghosts. There are elaborate maze-like structures and decades-old crime scenes. There’s a vast library that some people refuse to enter. There’s a damsel in distress — and a moody, secretive love interest. Plus, Maeve’s secret supernatural power, cell phones, the internet, and strong women characters.

This story is a melodramatic joy ride and just happens to be the author’s first novel. We can only hope she writes more.

Though the hotel was constructed in 1921, the haunting didn’t occur until seventy years later. On the fourth of August, 1991 at half past three in the morning, every television set in each of the four-hundred and thirty-nine guestrooms of the Château du Ciel switched on preternaturally… Some would moan they felt ill from acute heartburn or intense migraines. Others would claim they rose in the morning with streaks of white in their hair or spiders crawling in their bed sheets. They’d blame the Château: its poor wiring, its dusty vents and acidic wine selection. A handful would demand refunds and threaten never to step foot inside the hotel again… The Château in all its grandeur fell into ruin. The era was forgotten… Until the invitations arrived in the post. — Carolyne Topdjian

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That moment when on a getaway to a not-your-hometown, and you stroll through the lobby to the reception desk of a hotel? It's so exhilarating. Luxurious or cozy, it's a thrill to take possession of that room key.
That awesome moment on a getaway to not-your-hometown when you stroll through the lobby to the reception desk of the hotel? It's so exhilarating. Luxurious or cozy, it's a thrill to take possession of that room key.

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