Book Review: Ghostly Summons by: John A. Karr

Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Dark Continents Publishing

Publish Date: March 14, 2013

Origins:  From Tribute Books for Review

Format:  Trade Paperback/E-book

Order Links:  Kindle / Nook / Kobo

Author Bio: John A. Karr believes fiction writing each day helps keep the demons at bay. Ghostly Summons is his first full-length novel for Dark Continents Publishing. DCP has also published his Weird West novella, Ujahwek. He is the author of a handful of other novels: Death Clause, Hippocrates Shattered (scheduled for reprint by World Castle Publications as Shattered), Rhone, and Van Gogh, Encore. His short stories have appeared on webzines Allegory, The Absent Willow Review, and Danse Macabre. More works are in progress and in the marketing queue.

Karr is an ardent believer in the quote by Carl Van Doren (1885-1950), U.S. man of letters: Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.

Synopsis: Lars Kelsen doesn’t believe in psychic phenomenon. To him, visions of murder victims are a form of mental illness. Once they begin, options are limited; he can try to ignore them or deal with them by exposing a killer. Only the latter provides any semblance of peace. Temporarily, anyway. Five years into his new life as a programmer, Kelsen—ex-crime beat reporter with a penance he can never fully satisfy—sees a victim.

In person. Upright. Staring.

Typical of such past "Visits" as he calls them, he doesn’t welcome this one. The nude form of a beautiful millionairess in his cubicle means murder has come to the vacation haven known as North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It means he’ll have to go places he'd rather avoid. See things he'll wish he hadn’t. Do things that don't come naturally, like in-your-face confrontation and bending the law. Actually, breaking the law ... but with good intent. It also means dealing with one very attractive county coroner, who pushes his buttons in a not entirely unwelcome way.

So begins Kelsen's return to investigative reporting—complete with attempts on his life, fights, deception, and all the technological tricks, such as GPS and computer hacking, at his disposal. And maybe even finding a new love interest.

Review: ‘Ghostly Summons’ features Lars Kelsen, a former crime reporter, who also has Visitors. He sees murder victims…they appear to him unwanted and unwelcome. When he tries to ignore them, they’re more persistent – never speaking, just standing there staring. Kelsen is now a programmer, but when a new Visitor appears he’s drawn into an investigation. The investigation starts to take a toll, including threats on his life. Can Kelsen dodge the danger, solve the crime, and maybe even get the girl?

Lars Kelsen is a broken and haunted man, who is ‘cursed’ with seeing Visitors. He doesn’t think ghosts are real, but he has no explanation for the visitations. As he gets deeper into the mystery, it affects him deeply. ‘Ghostly Summons’ brings a likable and relatable character to readers in the form of Lars Kelsen. It’s easy to sympathize with him with his difficult circumstances and tough façade. The author has made the ‘spookier’ aspects of the story very believable and there is plenty of action, too, with a smidge of fledgling romance. I was drawn to the characters and the mystery was deviously clever. I’m interested to see where the author will take Kelsen next!

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