Book Review: Ghoul Interrupted / Author: Victoria Laurie / Publisher: Obsidian / Release Date: June 19th
Victoria Laurie is a professional psychic as well as a best-selling author, so she probably already knows what I'm going to say about this, her sixth Ghost Hunter Mystery. For the benefit of those who can't see into my head, Ghoul Interrupted is a lively, unpretentious romp that should satisfy Laurie's existing fans and bring her plenty of new ones. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is – light entertainment and an easy read – and that's why it works. See, I'm not going to say anything unpleasant, so you can put down that voodoo doll, Victoria...
The central character and narrator of the Ghost Hunter Mystery series is M.J. Holliday, a medium with her own ghostbusting reality-TV show, Ghoul Getters. In this novel she takes a break from being in front of the camera in order to track down a vicious three-toed demon that is picking off members of her boyfriend's family in New Mexico. Said boyfriend, Heath, is Native American, and M.J. is soon sticking her nose into old legends and sacred tribal burial grounds, not to mention some tasty burritos.
The Achilles' heel of paranormal romances tends to be over-complication. By the time you get to the second or third book in the series, everyone and his uncle is half leprechaun, a quarter dragon or at the very least somewhat Fae. Laurie keeps things refreshingly simple, brisk and down-to-earth. Despite there being a thumping great denizen of the lower depths to tackle, the supernatural element of Ghoul Interrupted feels restrained and sensible. M.J.'s powers are limited to occasional waking visions, and her team have a decidedly shoe-string approach to ghostbusting which involves a lot of screaming and running away. There's broad comic relief in the form of M.J.'s jelly-spined but somehow still fiercely loyal gay sidekick Gilley. The Native American milieu, with its dusty pueblos, long-running family feuds and taciturn tribesfolk, provides a vivid backdrop. And everything is suffused with easygoing charm thanks to M.J. herself, who makes for a lovably cheery and low maintenance heroine, unlike some I could mention.
Yes, it's all very school of Scooby-Doo. It's not very subtle or deep, and it can sometimes read like a cartoon in prose, with its characters who hover just on the right side of larger-than-life, and its spooky bits which send the ghost hunters into choruses of shrieks and paroxysms of helpless quivering. But Laurie makes a virtue of frivolity, and sure-footedly delivers an addictively feel-good yarn that should delight teens and anyone who enjoys fantasy with a light touch.