The Ghost Writer by John Harwood. Harcourt, 2004.
The suspense builds slowly in this gothic thriller. As a shy teen living in Australia, Gerard discovers a ghost story written by his grandmother, and he establishes an intense and passionate correspondence with Alice, a pen friend in England. Both seemingly unrelated events inexplicably upset his mother, who suddenly stops talking about her home and childhood in England, declaring that one of her mother's ghost stories came true. She becomes more and more paranoid, fearful, and controlling until her death several years later.
Gerard, now an adult and employed as a librarian, determines to find out about his mother's life and family in England - and to meet the elusive Alice, with whom he has continued to correspond. Horrifyingly, past and present begin to fuse, blurring the border between normal and paranormal. Murder and madness are revealed, and spirits and ghostlike voices drive this author's first novel to its satisfying and unexpected conclusion.