cover image The Ghoul Next Door: A Ghost Hunter Mystery

The Ghoul Next Door: A Ghost Hunter Mystery

Victoria Laurie. NAL/Obsidian, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-24060-6

Laurie's strong eighth Ghost Hunter mystery (after 2012's What a Ghoul Wants) plunges psychic M.J. Holliday, along with her darkly handsome boyfriend, Heath Whitefeather, and her flamboyantly hilarious best friend, Gilley Gillespie, into a world of personal and supernatural drama. The trouble begins when M.J.'s previous boyfriend, Steven Sable, turns to the trio for help with a mysterious, paranormal shadow that has been haunting his new fiancee's brother. From that point on, their problems only multiply. As a killer's ghost actively taunts M.J. through her efforts at understanding him, the police remain dubious about the presence of lurking murder suspects at the scene of a crime, and a local reporter first catches M.J. talking to a victim's ghost before pursuing this potentially explosive story. The fundamental charm of the Ghost Hunter series shines through in this novel: the main trio's personal dynamics remain playful, even within the context of demonic possession and slashed throats. As a result, their poor investigative choices come off as madcap and their fear and anxiety bring to mind a mature version of Saturday morning cartoon adventures, all without slipping into parody or caricature. (Jan.)