Mark's Reviews > The Ghost Hunters

The Ghost Hunters by Neil  Spring
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really liked it

Dan Brown could learn a thing or two from debut novelist Neil Spring.

While Brown's DaVinci yarn did a marvelous job blending historical fact and speculative fiction, readers seem to have missed the difference for the most part, unable to distinguish anchoring details from make-believe. Spring, by contrast, avoids this trap - but more on that in a moment.

The Ghost Hunters is a clever and engaging portrayal of controversial real-life 1940s British ghost hunter/ghost buster Harry Price. But Spring spins his yarn through the distancing eyes of Price's assistant, Sarah Grey, and the novel calculatingly reveals as much or more about this purportedly "supporting character" (think Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men and the final denouement role reversals between Willie Start and Jack Burden).

The story also tells us much about mid-20th Century Spiritualism and the emerging attempts by scientists and researchers to grapple with über-scientific "evidence." The narrative also provides rich explorations of the mores of the times and the attitudes toward working women before, during, and after WWII and beyond in the UK.

I'd call this a psychological tale as much as a supernatural one -- in fact, the reader must decide (and must do so multiple times throughout) which one best applies to events portrayed in the narrative. One of Grey's take-away reflections near the end of the book may sum it up best: "[T]hose who hunt ghosts are hunted, in turn, by them." And yes, readers can take her remark either literally or else symbolically.

Spring does a wonderful job researching his material -- so much so, it's often hard to tell his yarn-spinning form his depictions of actual even if, at times, incredible events. Where Spring avoids Brown's "reality check" trap is in the novel's "Author's Note" that follows the narrative, in which he reveals what was true and what was make-believe.

As I read the novel, I resisted valiantly (though not always successfully) from referring to his bulleted points that delineate his tale's liberties with the actual "facts" surrounding the adventures of these ghost hunters.

I've almost said too much already, desperately wanting to share more but not wanting to spoil your own revelations if you decide to read this book.

Is it a perfect book? No. I found the frame-tale a bit too predictable, and from too far away. But the tale within the tale was very, very good.

Recommended for those who like historical novels, or mysteries, or tales of the paranormal (maybe!)

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Reading Progress

November 19, 2014 – Shelved
November 19, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
December 7, 2014 – Started Reading
December 7, 2014 –
page 128
December 13, 2014 –
page 400
75.9% "As much psychological as supernatural, plus a fun and suspenseful read!"
December 14, 2014 – Finished Reading

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