Friday, 13 September 2019

Ghosts of Gotham, by Craig Schaefer.

(Cover Image not available)

Lionel Page is a crusading journalist dedicated to exposing those bottom feeders who prey on the vulnerable;  the faith healers, miracle workers and ‘Come to Jesus and be Healed’ Evangelists who have made their fortunes from the hope they can generate within people who wish to escape their afflictions:  it is Lionel’s mission in life to reveal their criminal deception, and to prove, as always, that there is no such thing as magic or miracles -  and he’s very good at it, too, until he receives a phone call from Regina Dunkle, an elderly, very wealthy lady who lives at a top Chicago address, in a house remarkably devoid of personal touches. 
She has a lucrative proposition for him:  a previously undiscovered manuscript by 19th century master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe is coming up for auction in New York:  she wishes to know who the successful bidder might be, so that she can buy it from him – if it’s authentic.  Lionel naturally wonders why she doesn’t authorise him to make the highest bid, but hey!  He has never been to New York, let alone an all-expenses-paid trip, and he could do with the break.  Let’s go!
And Lionel, arch-cynic, atheist, believer-only-in-what-I-see-with-my-own-eyes is about to have a very rude awakening:  absolutely nothing is what it seems, including his chance meeting with a beautiful (of course!) woman in a diner who, it transpires, is a witch (she saves his bacon numerous times!);  a trip in a subway tunnel that shows that not only trains travel down there – nasty blood-sucking ghouls with a preference for human flesh reside there too, and consider him to be a particularly tasty morsel.  And don’t forget what happens at the Auction of Poe’s manuscript, where New York’s finest gather, all members of the Thoth Club (are you up with your Egyptian Mythology?) but not for much longer, for the Arch-villain arrives, reduces everything to a bloody wasteland, then saunters off with The Manuscript.  Just like that.
Mr Schaefer takes the reader on a mad, action-packed ride through Mythology and history, ancient and modern;  there are more characters than we really need ( I had such a lot of trouble keeping up with the sub-sub-sub plots ), BUT!  Lionel is a pretty shrewd guy, with a very smart and sassy tongue, and his witch is just as entertaining – and OMG, those monsters! I’ll be having bad dreams for months.  FOUR STARS.      

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