The Cover for the New Edition of Help for the Haunted!

In a matter of weeks, Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries will be re-released by Brom Bones Books.

Though I might tinker with it slightly, here’s the cover. The violet glow around the lettering will make sense to those who’ve either read the previous edition (published by Emby Press) or who’ve been reading the chronicles posted each month at this website.

Help for the Haunted Front Cover

I’m still proofreading and tweaking the stories — and I have a Maine vacation planned in about a week — so exactly when the book will be available for sale is uncertain. But it shouldn’t be any later than the middle of June.


The Merry Ghost Hunter Is Retiring — But Slowly

Back - Brom Bones Logo

Have you had a moment to explore my new website, Brom Bones Books? I haven’t had the official ribbon-cutting yet, but it already provides many of the resources introduced here at The Merry Ghost Hunter blogsite: the Ghost Hunter Hall of Fame, the Legacy of Ghost Hunter Fiction: A Chronological Bibliography, the Chronological Bibliography of Early Occult Detectives, and a few other features. As I move these over, I’m tweaking and improving them. For instance, you’ll find “read more about it” links to posts I’ve written about ghost hunters in real life and in fiction throughout their respective lists. I’ve also split the very long bibliography of occult detective fiction into a page for the 1800s and another page for the early 1900s. This should allow easier maneuvering, and I’ll be adding those “read more about it” links there, too.

In time, my In the Shadow of Rathbone reviews of Sherlock Holmes movies will be boxed up and moved to the new site — and there’s already new stuff to explore. I especially recommend you sip from the Old Phantoms with New Captions page, which displays ghost-related illustrations I’ve stumbled across in old magazines and books — but I’ve added new, funny captions to them. Because I’m a rascal.

This transition will be a slow one. I imagine The Merry Ghost Hunter will remain in place until the end of 2018. After all, this is where many folks come to download the next Vera Van Slyke ghostly mystery at the start of each month, and there are still five more of those. Unfortunately, at some point, I’ll be discontinuing the every-Wednesday posting of an authentic ghost report. You see, the goal is for me to spend less time blogging and more time creating informative and entertaining books under the Brom Bones Books banner.

I hope you’ll join me in this slow move to a new — yet familiar — place. After all, The Merry Ghost Hunter is slowly becoming a ghost town.


THE GREATEST LITERARY HOAX–er, uhm–DISCOVERY OF THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS: The Lost Limericks of Edgar Allan Poe Is Now Available

Version 1:

Last summer, I was enjoying some alone time in a local bar, when a man named Bertram Lucius Zachery Bubb (a.k.a. B.L.Z. Bubb) sat beside me. He seemed to know things about me, such as my academic interest in American authors of the 1800s.

Long story short, he sold me a very old manuscript of what he said might be 100 limericks written by Edgar Allan Poe!

I probably shouldn’t have bought them. They were expensive. But if they were the lost limericks of Edgar Allan Poe, they would be a very important discovery in the world of literature. So, yeah, I bought them.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to prove or disprove who wrote them. Poe? Maybe. Someone who just really liked Poe? Possibly. Me? No, that’s ridiculous–I’m no poet.

Decide for yourself. The small volume–with my Introduction and footnotes–is now available for sale. Find it by clicking here.

Lost Limericks - Cover for promo

Version 2:

This has been something of a secret project that I’ve been working on for about five years. Every now and again, usually while sipping a beer, I’d scribble a limerick about something Edgar Allan Poe had written. Or about his life. Or about his literary criticism. Or what critics thought of him. A good many of the limericks are framed as ideas that Poe jotted down in limerick form but never developed any further. I call these the “dead-end ideas” limericks.

Astoundingly, I wrote 100 of these silly limericks. Well, many are silly. Some are spooky. Others are serious, if one can make a serious point with a limerick. I organized these all into a book, and it’s available now. You can find it at Amazon by clicking on the book cover above.

Review: John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray

“If your man is more dangerous than the late Professor Moriarty, or than the living Colonel Sebastian Moran, then he is indeed worth meeting. May I ask his name?”

— Sherlock Holmes

Before one reads John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray (18thWall, 2016), one might want to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Illustrious Client” (1924). It’s among the last of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, the one from which my epigraph comes. Grant continues Doyle’s story in A Study in Gray, using that earlier, loosely resolved case to pull the great detective out of apiarian retirement and into Grant’s own world of supernatural espionage. This more occult realm of intrigue — along with its lead characters: Captain Redvers Blake, Abigail Jessop, and Henry Dodson — exist in Grant’s The Last Edwardian series.

Continue reading “Review: John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray”

A Book Report on Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters

Ghostology 101a

Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death (Penguin Press, 2006), by Pulizer-Prize winning author Deborah Blum, might disappoint readers looking for true stories of actual ghost hunts in haunted houses and the like. Instead, the book focuses on scientists from the late 1800s and early 1900s who investigated spiritualist mediums, clairvoyants, and the like. William James, brother of the fiction (and ghost story) writer Henry James, was among those scientists, and he serves as the hub of Blum’s book.

However, this isn’t exactly a biography of James, either. Rather the book spans the interest in psychical research of many scientists and scholars — William Crookes, Edmund Gurney, Oliver Lodge, Nora and Henry Sidgwick, et al. — so many, in fact, keeping some of the names straight can become a challenge. Nonetheless, readers get a good sense of the opposition facing these intellectuals from both Europe and the U.S. Blum also explores the internal tensions felt between these figures, who became the key players in forming the Society for Psychical Research and its American branch. Continue reading “A Book Report on Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters”

A Book Report on D. Felton’s Haunted Greece and Rome

Ghostology 101aThis post might as easily go with those I categorize as “Unearthing the Unearthly: My Literary Digging.” It also has implications for the Spectral Edition clippings I post each Wednesday. This is because D. Felton’s enlightening book Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity (University of Texas Press, 1999) is as much about ghosts in literature as it is about actual historical records of ghosts. And it will appeal to readers interested in either.

Continue reading “A Book Report on D. Felton’s Haunted Greece and Rome”

Regarding Vera and the Violet Ruptures between Dimensions

the-v-files“Violet, say our scientists, is on the extreme edge of visibility! Could it somehow mark a passage between ours and the invisible world?”

— Vera Van Slyke, “The Minister’s Unveiling”

The very first story in Help for the Haunted introduces the idea that violet light marks passageways between the spirit and physical realms — but the light can only be perceived by spirits. By the third story, Van Slyke and Lida discover a means to tug that light into the visible spectrum of the living. It becomes the duo’s chief means of confirming supernatural activity.

Continue reading “Regarding Vera and the Violet Ruptures between Dimensions”