Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Book Blast: Ellie Jordan: Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #1) by J.L Bryan
Publication Date: August 27th, 2014
Genre: Adult Paranormal Mystery

Summary from Goodreads

Ellie Jordan’s job is to catch and remove unwanted ghosts. Part detective, part paranormal exterminator, Ellie operates out of Savannah, Georgia, one of the oldest and most haunted cities in North America.

When a family contacts her to deal with a disturbing presence in the old mansion they’ve recently purchased, Ellie first believes it to be a typical, by-the-book specter, a residual haunting by a restless spirit. Instead, she finds herself confronting an evil older and more powerful than she’d ever expected, rooted in the house’s long and sordid history of luxury, sin, and murder. The dangerous entity seems particularly interested in her clients’ ten-year-old daughter.

Soon her own life is in danger, and Ellie must find a way to exorcise the darkness of the house before it can kill her, her clients, or their frightened young child.

“Why do ghosts wear clothes?” Stacey asked as we drove toward the possibly-haunted house.
Stacey was twenty-two, four years younger than me and much prettier, her blond hair cropped short and simple, carelessly styled, but her makeup was immaculate. She looked like what she was: a tomboy despite being raised by a former beauty-queen socialite in Montgomery, Alabama. She was a very recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design film school, but she'd been eager to join Eckhart Investigations and hunt ghosts rather than pursue a more sane and profitable career.
I had to wonder how Alabama-socialite mom felt about that.
“Well?” Stacey asked, raising an eyebrow. She rode shotgun as I drove our unmarked blue cargo van through the streets of Savannah. It was June, and rich sunlight fell through the thick, gnarled branches of ancient live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and crepe myrtles heavy with red blossoms. The stately old trees shaded columned mansions and gardens filled with summer blooms.
“I don't know, Stacey,” I said, trying not to sigh. “You tell me why ghosts wear clothes.”
“I'm asking you!”
“I thought you were setting up a joke,” I said.
“Nope, totally serious.”
“I don't get the question,” I told Stacey. “Why wouldn't they?”
“Well...think about it,” Stacey said. “The living wear them to keep warm or whatever. If you're a ghost, you don't have a body.”
“Does that keep you warm?” I smirked at her low-cut tank top, which wasn’t quite appropriate for work. I’ve been scratched and bruised by enough angry spirits that I wear turtlenecks, leather, and denim even in hot weather. I’ve tried to warn Stacey about this, but she hasn’t listened so far.
“Uh, no...” Stacey looked down at her shirt as if puzzled.
“So why do you wear it?”
“Because I don't want to be naked?”
“Question answered,” I said. “Next?”
“Why do ghosts wrap themselves in bedsheets?” Stacey asked.
“They don’t do that. Why would you even think--?”
“So they can rest in peace.” Stacey beamed, then her smile faltered a little. “That’s a joke.”
“No, jokes make you laugh.”
“That one killed at my second-grade Halloween party.”
“Only because your audience was high on sugar,” I said.
“Here’s another one: why do ghosts come out at night?”
“Because their electromagnetic fields are sensitive to dense concentrations of photons.”
“Joke-ruiner,” Stacey said.
We drove north and west, away from the city center. The Treadwell house was in an odd area of town, upriver, near empty brick warehouses and a few old factory shells dating back more than a hundred years. The nearest residential neighborhood was a row of decrepit bungalows on narrow, weedy lots, some of them clearly abandoned or foreclosed. They'd probably been inhabited by factory and dock workers at some point.
One old factory did show some signs of remodeling and gentrification, with a clothing boutique and one of those restaurants where you can buy a cruelty-free mushroom sandwich on sprouted-grain bread for just fifteen bucks. Maybe the area was on its way back.
I dropped the sun visor and opened the mirror to double-check myself before meeting the new clients. I always kept it pretty simple—minimal make-up, long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. I can't do much more than that with my crazy coarse hair, anyway. Back in high school, I'd let it grow too shaggy and thick, and it combined with my old armor-thick glasses to create a real Mad Scientist Girl look.
Unlike Stacey, I hadn't been trained in a thousand subtle varieties of cosmetics and hair products. After my parents died when I was fifteen, I didn't really care about normal adolescent stuff like parties, dances, or dating, anyway. I'd stay up late at night studying everything from William James and Spiritualism to Tarot cards and Aleister Crowley.
Even then, I was training myself to be a ghost trapper.
“I don't see any houses down this way...” Stacey said. We passed a low brick warehouse choked with vines, its windows boarded over and spraypainted with graffiti.
“Maybe there.” I pointed to an overgrown lot with a screen of massive old trees and a wilderness of overgrown shrubs. A narrow, cracked brick drive led from the street into the darkness behind the trees.
We had to slow down and squint to read the old letters rusting off the ivy-choked brick mailbox. It was the right address.
I turned and eased the van up the cracked driveway, nosing aside low-lying limbs.
“Doesn't look like anybody's lived here in a long time,” Stacey whispered. “Do you think it'll be a real ghost this time? I'm tired of duds.”
“Careful what you wish for,” I told her. More than half our calls come from people who are just plain ghost-happy. They think their place is haunted, and they haven't bothered to eliminate other options. Sometimes that eerie, moaning cold spot is just a clunky air conditioner; sometimes those strange footsteps in the attic are just squirrels. Our first job is to check for any non-paranormal causes for the alleged haunting.
Stacey hadn't seen much in the way of real ghosts in the three weeks since she'd been hired full-time. If she had seen the kinds of things I've seen, she would have been less eager to find a true haunting.
The house lay beyond a jungle of green that had once been a lawn and gardens. Here in coastal Georgia, with the hot sun and constant rain, the wilderness is always ready to sprout back at the first sign of neglect.
I slowed to a halt as the front of the house came into view.
“Wow,” Stacey whispered.
A three-story brick mansion loomed above us, much of it hidden by the shadows of the old trees overhead, and even more of it concealed by moss and wild vines. It was a Gothic Revival style house, made of dark brick and heavy wood, with treacherously steep roofs and sharp, high gables rising toward the dim tree canopy above. It had a medieval castle look to it, maybe the kind of neglected castle where Beauty would find the Beast hanging out, just waiting for the remodeling power of love to turn it all into a gorgeous palace.
A team of three men worked on the roof, repairing years of broken shingles and rotten wood. A pair of paint-spattered pick-up trucks sat in the drive below them. I idled beside the trucks for a moment.
“This place looks creepy,” Stacey whispered. “Does it feel cold to you?”
“There's enough shade to lower the temperature a few degrees,” I said. “Don't get worked up and spook yourself. Keep your mind empty.”
“An empty mind is an open mind,” Stacey intoned solemnly, imitating our boss, Calvin Eckhart. We both broke down into snickering. Stacey is a pretty convincing mimic, and Calvin’s occasional bouts of Zen are always amusing, delivered in his earthy good-old-boy accent.
“It's true,” I said, straightening up in my seat. “They said to pull around to the side.”
“Ooh, we have to use the servants' entrance?” Stacey made a face as we followed the weedy brick drive back around to the two-story east wing of the house. The east wing had its own chimney and looked to be in much better repair than the main facade, with no mold or vines on the bricks, the trim freshly painted a dark brown. “They must not want the neighbors to know they called the ghost exterminators.”
“What neighbors?” I asked, thinking of the empty warehouse we'd just passed.
I parked near a likely-looking side door. The door was heavy and red, built of solid wood and shielded by a screen door. It was sunken at the back of a small brick porch under the shadows of a sharply peak roof. The door itself looked new, and the brick looked worn but recently pressure-washed.
Two more cars were parked there, a silver Jaguar and a small black Mercedes. Good. Eckhart Investigations charges on a rough sliding scale, so people and businesses who can afford it pay more, while poor people pay less. We also do some free work for people who obviously can’t afford anything.
I sort of hoped the Treadwells had a true haunting. The ghost business had been slow for a few weeks, and I could use a decent paycheck at the end of the month.
Stacey and I got out of the van. I grabbed my black toolbox, while she brought her camera bag.
“Are you the ghost catchers?” a small, whispery voice asked, and I jumped. Maybe I was a little more affected by the dark, creepy old mansion than I wanted to admit to Stacey.
A girl in a yellow dress emerged from the shadows under the roofed doorway, clutching a cloth doll in her hands. She twisted the doll nervously as she stared at us. She was nine or ten, and she had purple bags under her eyes as if she hadn’t slept in a long time. It was unsettling to see that on a kid so young.

About The Author

J.L. BryanJ.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.

He is the author of The Paranormals series of horror novels (Jenny PoxTommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death) the Songs of Magic series for younger readers (Fairy Metal ThunderFairy Blues, and Fairystruck...so far) and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, their son, and some dogs and cats.

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