Download a FREE copy of the first Vera Van Slyke ghostly mystery: “The Minister’s Unveiling.”


On the Complimentary Haunting page, you can find a link to the very first chronicle in Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries, by Tim Prasil (a fellow who looks surprisingly like myself).

This collection of thirteen paranormal cases, all investigated by master ghost hunter Vera Van Slyke, is currently out of print. Alas, the publisher has taken a new direction. Help for the Haunted will return in traditional and ebook form, however, once I figure out how to self-publish.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting links to all thirteen ghostly mysteries — one a month, in chronological order — right here at The Merry Ghost Hunter. I’ll continue to do this even after the book is available for purchase again. Drop by this website once a month, and you’ll be able to download almost the entire collection. I say “almost” because there’s also an Introduction and a Postscript in the book.

The first chilling adventure takes place in a wintry, New England church that’s being haunted by the spirit of a curiously out-of-place minister. Or, at least, that’s the story the locals tell. Vera — along with her friend and biographer, Lucille Parsell — uncover guilty secrets in “The Minster’s Unveiling.” Find it in pdf, epub, and Kindle formats here!

winter church


The Big Plan; or, Whatever Happened to Vera Van Slyke?

Here are my plans for four books that’ll have my name on them. Let’s start (and end) with Vera Van Slyke, my favorite ghost hunter.

Apparently, Help for the Haunted
is no longer available except at ridiculous prices. Emby Press has decided to take several steps back in regard to what it publishes, returning rights to its authors and letting us either find new publishers or self-publish. I’ve decided to pursue the latter.

PoeLivesNow, if you stop by here on Wednesdays, you might know that I’m very, very close to finishing the book version of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports in U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. In fact, I completed a solid draft of the whole book just last night, and I plan to proofread and polish it through the end of August. September will then be devoted to learning how to self-publish, and I should be able to have that book available to readers by Halloween. Ghost reports. Halloween. It makes sense, yes?

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I went on a Poe-grimage this summer — a trip to Richmond, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland, two cities where Edgar Allan Poe spent much of his life. I was seeking inspiration to put the final touches on a book that deals with Poe in an odd way. It’s a creative work, you see. I don’t want to divulge too much, but that’s probably the second book I’ll self-publish. While I’d like to have it out for Christmas, I’m also letting it ripen for harvest on it own schedule.

vera-lida-oval-on-white1At that point, I’ll be in very good shape to re-publish Help for the Haunted, and right now I’m planning on that happening in early 2018. In the meantime, starting on September 1st of this year, I’ll be returning to how I originally introduced Vera Van Slyke to readers: by posting her otherworldly cases on my blog. I’ll post all thirteen tales, one each month, here at The Merry Ghost Hunter even after the book is available again. In other words, you can read the entire thing (well, minus the Introduction and Postscript) by visiting once a month.

And finally there’s the Vera Van Slyke novel! I had a nice start on this book, but newspaper ghosts and Edgar Allan Poe got in the way. With luck and another summer off, I should be able to have that novel available by Halloween of 2018. We shall see.

Profile: Harry Houdini


After I inherited the chronicles of Vera Van Slyke’s ghost hunts from my great-grandaunt — the tales now published in Help for the Haunted — I researched some of the names found there. Cook County Coroner Peter Hoffman, sea captain Henry Thorn Lord, cryptozoologist Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams have all proven to be real people.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to research the client spotlighted in the chronicle “Houdini Slept Here.”

Continue reading “Profile: Harry Houdini”

Profile: Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams


Every now and again, I hear from someone who has read Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) — and can supply me with additional information on the people who interacted with the great ghost hunter.

Last week, I received a scan of a file photo from a librarian at St. Genesius College in Moncton, New Brunswick. The photo shows Dr. Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams, who taught in the Department of Anthropology at that school. Adams was also very interested in cryptozoology, the study of species only rumored to exist. As a dedicated cryptozoologist, Adams traveled widely in search of what has come to be called Bigfoot. (In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the creature was better known as “wild man in the woods” and variations thereon.)

Continue reading “Profile: Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams”

Do the Vera Van Slyke Chronicles Follow a Formula?

the-v-files“Often have I been asked to formulate my views about ghost stories and tales of the marvellous, the mysterious, the supernatural. Never have I been able to find out whether I had any views that could be formulated.”

— M.R. James

As I edited my great-grandaunt Lida’s chronicles of Vera Van Slyke’s supernatural investigations, I was faced with an obvious question:  Are they fact, or are they fiction?

Continue reading “Do the Vera Van Slyke Chronicles Follow a Formula?”

Foiling the Frauds: Some of Vera Van Slyke’s Colleagues

the-v-filesI’ve never located a copy of Vera Van Slyke’s book Spirits Shouldn’t Sneeze: A Decade of Defrauding Mediums (1901). It must not have sold well, or there would be copies available in used book stores. This book played a key role in sparking the friendship between Van Slyke and Lucille “Lida” Parsell. Lida had been a phony medium, you see, but she eagerly consented to be interviewed for the book.

Continue reading “Foiling the Frauds: Some of Vera Van Slyke’s Colleagues”

Regarding Vera and the Violet Ruptures between Dimensions

V-Files scary“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”

The Internet Can’t Help Solve This Vera Van Slyke Mystery

the-v-filesOne of the most interesting aspects of having edited the Vera Van Slyke chronicles is knowing that, with the Internet, I can do follow-up detective work in ways that Vera and my great-grandaunt Lida never could.

Take, for instance, the case titled “Dark and Dirty Corners,” which is found in Help for the Haunted. It involves an unusual house out on “the moors” of the Chicago-area hinterlands, a building known as Stickney House. A curious feature of this house is that it was built with rounded corners, both inside and out.

Continue reading “The Internet Can’t Help Solve This Vera Van Slyke Mystery”