Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Ghostly Giveaway

It's so nice to be able to focus again on other authors and their work.  The pressure is off and it's time for me to enjoy reading another's novel.  Ah!!!  So today I have the opportunity to bring to you a paranormal mystery for YOUR reading pleasure.  Join me in welcoming John A. Karr's Ghostly Summons.  Oh, and don't forget to sign up for the giveaway.  Here we go!

Book Summary:
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.

My Review:
There were several things I really enjoyed about this book.  First, it was great to actually get to "visit" the Outer Banks again!  In my previous career, I had the joy of driving down the island chain to Cape Hatteras and ate dinner at a lovely little seaside restaurant near Frisco.  Ghostly Summons brought all of that back, crossing the bridges, watching the waves roll in, smelling the briny air, etc.  The descriptions Mr. Karr brought to light made me feel like I was back again.

Second, being a huge history buff, I enjoyed the breaks into the history behind the Lost Colony and the live theatrical staging of the settlers and Indians.  It played well into the storyline by the end.

Lars, our protagonist, was also alot of fun, with his self-deprecating humor and sharp wit.  He was also very approachable in his brokenness.  The past was not kind to him after his five-year-old son was kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered.  The resulting pain swallowed Lars until his marriage crumbled.  But the worst part was when he started seeing the images of murder victims, come to him for aid in telling their story and finding their killer.  The images don't talk, don't move, just float into his world at the worst possible moments, depriving him of a normal life until their murder is solved.

They also sent him over the edge.

For five years he has been free of the images after leaving his reporting gig, convincing himself his broken mind only conjured the images after reading and seeing too many police reports.  Well, and the fact that his psychiatrist agrees his "visitors" aren't real.  But now they're back, and bringing to light his brokenness once again.

My favorite scene - Lars is forced to jump from a bridge eighty feet to the water below.  A traffic tie-up stuck Lars near the apex of the bridge while a motorcycle assassin attempts to gun him down.  Realizing either he's a goner or others stuck on the bridge with him will be hurt, Lars takes the daring leap.  It was awesome!

My favorite character - well sorry, I just loved old Hooper, Lars' black Lab who loves everything and everyone, especially racing his master off the thirty-foot dock into the waters at the back of the house.  He's such a sweetie and a tad ornery when he stows away in Lars' Jeep.

Typically I like a book with pacing like roiling wave after wave crashing onto the shore nearly non-stop.  Ghostly Summons, however, is more like a meandering brook.  The pacing isn't fast by any means, and more times than not gets bogged down by waaaay too much description.  The novel could have had several hundred pages cut out and pacing increased with alot of tightening of unnecessary descriptors.  The opening prologue started off great with the whole fly-boy moment that exposed the victim's body, but after the scene break, we're introduced to Lars in more of an omniscient viewpoint, with page after page of description about what he looks like, his brothers, and what they look like.  I felt the prologue would have best been served with the bombing run and then move to the first chapter and work in a smidgen of Lars' personal appearance with applicable moments within the storyline itself.

There were a few editing issues from time to time, but only one that really zinged me and made me stop reading to go back to see what I'd missed.  Early in the book there is a mother who comes into the coffee stop with a little boy in tow.  It makes Lars think of times from the past with his own son.  At first the little boy's name is Joshua and then two turns later he becomes Jacob.  Little thing, I know, but it was the only thing that really made me put on the brakes and go...whaaaat?  Think minion here. :-)

The only other issue I had was the fact that Lars obtained the names of two possible perps from one of the maids, and then Lars goes after one and COMPLETELY ignores/forgets about the second one, even when he has a chance meeting with said secondary.  He didn't even acknowledge any jog to his memory that the name was familiar and then set up what I suspected.  This lack of questioning/forgetting about the other possible perp bugged me for most of the book, and I therefore was not surprised by how it all played out.  The ultimate bad guy was rather cliche (you'll get it when you read it) and no surprise either but I really enjoyed seeing how this person received their comeuppance.  Good final action sequence and appropriately satisfying!

Even with the stated issues, I found Ghostly Summons to be a good, one-time read I would recommend.

Kindle buy link ($3.99):

Nook buy link ($3.99):

Kobo buy link ($3.99):

John A. Karr's 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.  Visit his website at

Follow the Tribute Books blog tour at:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm with you, D A, on favorite scene and favorite character! Thanks for the review :)

  2. Wasn't that exciting? Thanks, Nicole, for letting me participate in this tour.

  3. D A,

    Thanks very much for the review of Ghostly Summons. Best with your own writing.


    1. John - thanks for letting me take a leap into the paranormal world.