A newly formed team of paranormal investigators take on ghosts, murders and misdirection in a state senator’s haunted New Orleans’ mansion. Known as the killing grounds for post-Civil War era serial killer, the mansion has long been associated mysterious deaths. The locals believe ghosts are the culprits in the rash of suicide jumpers from the second floor. The house’s latest victim, Regina Holloway, is thought to have killed herself following the loss of her only child in a drunk-driving accident.
Beloved state senator, David Holloway, refuses to believe his wife’s death was suicide. He hires a paranormal investigative team, backed by the US government, to uncover the truth. Despite the supernatural hoopla, the agents have their eyes and ears pointed toward the local Aryan group and a cultic church who are vocal opponents of the popular senator’s political views. Whatever the investigation reveals, the six member team won’t rest until they uncover the murderer.
The sequences that propel the story forward are logical and plausible. I didn’t notice any particular flaws as the team went about investigating not only paranormal phenomenon within the house but following non-supernatural leads to find a killer. There is an extensive cast of characters with six investigators, the Senator, his four member staff, a police detective, a pregnant teenager and various spectrals residing in the mansion. Some-times too many characters can overwhelm the story, but these individuals were given enough story time so that I wasn’t jerked around here, there, and everywhere by cardboard pop-up figures.
Jackson Crowe and Angela Hawkins, the lead investigators, develop a romantic relationship fairly quickly but it doesn’t seem out of place or rushed. The romance thread is a facet of the story but not the focus, so this is paranormal suspense with romantic elements.
I really like Jackson Crow. He believes in the supernatural but he also understands that what most people would call supernatural are manipulations perpetrated by contriving people. He will pursue the logical course and when that’s stripped down to the bare bone, he’ll either find a human culprit or evidence of a supernatural. No matter what, he’ll get to the truth.
Angela is a conduit to help spirits move forward and into the light. She operates more on instinct and feeling so this often put her in conflict with Jackson. Angela trusts her “knowing” ability, but she isn’t airy or foolish. She’s a former police officer who knows how to handle a big gun, much to Jackson’s surprise.
Jackson and Angela’s temperaments are a perfect match. Their differences create enough of a conflict to keep the relationship interesting and common ground keeps them connected.
Although the mystery plot is well-developed and credible, I skimmed parts when large amounts of the house history or backstory were presented. For me, the data chunks slowed pacing and I prefer faster, smoother reads. However, those sections don’t necessarily detract from the story. In fact, they demonstrate that investigators do go about investigating, even paranormal ones.
Phantom Evil is not an edge of your seat thriller. However, there’s plenty of action, a slew of suspects, and enough paranormal activity to hold interest until the end.
Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. Phantom Evil is book one in her new paranormal suspense series Krewe of Hunters.
Gold Coin rating: 3.75
Heat Index: 2
Reviewed for The Season