Kirsten Reviews: Spirits From Beyond by Simon R. Green
Spirits From Beyond by Simon R. Green
Meet the operatives of the Carnacki Institute—JC Chance: the team leader, brave, charming, and almost unbearably arrogant; Melody Chambers: the science geek who keeps the antisupernatural equipment running; and Happy Jack Palmer: the terminally gloomy telepath. Their mission: Do Something About Ghosts. Lay them to rest, send them packing, or just kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses… Their latest assignment takes JC and the team to a small country village, site of a famously haunted inn. At first, JC thinks that the spirits in the King’s Arms are more the stuff of urban legend than anything that needs the Ghost Finders’ expertise. Then one story rings true: the tale of a traveler trapped by an unusual thunderstorm who retired to her room for the night—and vanished. Trapped by an unusual thunderstorm—like the one that begins raging outside shortly after they arrive… As the team investigates, they are forced, one by one, to face some hard truths about themselves, their relationships, and the haunting itself—truths that may push Happy Jack over the edge into the madness that he has always feared...
Spirits From Beyond is the fourth entry in the Ghost Finders series by Simon R. Green. For anyone who follows multiple series by Green, this is another 'agent with a special ability' series.
JC Chance, Melody Chambers, Happy Jack Palmer feel like a group that would be at home on network television. Their mandate is simple: Do Something About Ghosts. In short, don't let them get away with haunting, disrupting business, other otherwise making a nuisance of themselves.
This time they are sent to investigate King's Arms, a haunted inn. At first glance, it seems that the spirits are an urban legend. However, soon they are trapped in a thunderstorm eerily similar to the one that, in the stories, trapped a traveler who went to her room that evening and then disappeared.
This is one of those 'bottle books,' where the characters are held in one location, have to deal with some issues, and by virtue of such close contact and the inability to get some distance from the problem, have more of a personal scale.
Of them all, Happy Jack is maybe the most uneasy, as he's teetering on the edge of madness, something that as a telepath, he's always been afraid of, and it's up to Melody and the exceedingly arrogant and charming JC to help their teammate and solve the ghostly meteorological mystery.
In the face of books that have such world-changing stakes, it's a nice change of pace to have one that is centered around people and their problems for once. And, ghosts are likewise a pleasant departure from all the werewolf, vampire, and other supernatural threats that have gotten so much attention.
Overall, this isn’t an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller, but it’s a fun read, and again, a different set of adversaries, along with problems that may just be in somebody’s head. Or not, that’s the whole point.