Title: Principles of Spookology
Series: The Spectral Files: Book Two
Author: S.E. Harmon
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 330 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Murder Mystery
At a Glance: Despite the perhaps inevitable comparisons to the PsyCop series made along the way, there’s a compelling whodunnit wrapped up in this entertaining read. Principles of Spookology offers up some good fun amidst the serious nature of murder and supernatural mayhem.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: No one said being a medium would be easy.
Rain Christiansen, former FBI agent and current cold case detective, is starting to think it’s the hardest job he’s ever had—and the most important. He’s determined to accept all the changes in his formerly well-ordered life, but that means embracing a whole lot of weird. There’s no instruction manual for meshing his work with his medium duties, and he’s painfully aware that he’s flubbing the job. So are the ghosts, who are becoming increasingly impatient. And stronger.
To complicate matters, he’s not sure what these spooktacular developments mean for his relationship. It certainly seems like Daniel McKenna, his partner in work and life, is in it for the long haul. But Rain can’t help but wonder how long that patience will last…and what he’ll do if Danny decides the intrusive ghosts are just too much.
Rain thought accepting his supernatural gifts would be the solution to his troubles. But he’s starting to realize his problems are just getting started.
Review: I’m a late comer to S.E. Harmon’s Spectral Files series, and I suppose I count myself fortunate in that since I was able to read P.S. I Spook You and then jumped straight into Principles of Spookology. This book picks up where book one left off, with Rainstorm Christiansen—yes, his parents are total hippies—back in his hometown of Brickell Bay, Florida, both to be near his endearingly eccentric family and to rekindle his relationship with Danny McKenna. This time hopefully on a more permanent basis.
Rain is now working as a detective for the newly established Paranormal Tactical Unit, as a specialist in cold cases; not necessarily because he’s a genius detective, although he is a PhD and a crack profiler, as much as that he sees and communicates with the ghosts of the deceased—that’s why it’s called the Paranormal Tactical Unit, after all—so he has an advantage…if you can really call it that…in gathering intel and coming up with viable suspects on cases that have gone unsolved. The victims don’t make it easy on Rain, though. It’s not as if they point the finger at their killer and the PTU storms in to make an arrest. Where would be the fun in that? No, there’s a lot of work and no insignificant amount of danger that goes into delivering justice and closure to Rain’s incorporeal visitors.
A substantial plot point in the series, and this book specifically, is that Rain has no idea how to control his ability and therefore, now that he’s given up self-medicating, has become a twenty-four/seven conduit between the deceased and the physical world. As the spectral demands on him spiral out of control—ghosts showing up when the guys are gettin’ down to business is a running gag—Rain not only loses all sense of privacy but begins to lose precious hours of sleep too. There’s a ghost invading his subconscious this time, and he has no idea how to set the necessary parameters to keep from losing himself and prevent his ability from becoming an obstacle in his relationship. It also would seem the ghosts are now feeding off him like some kind of spiritual energy vampires, and I loved the effects of that on both Rain and the ghosts. As a result, Rain takes some unfortunate wrong turns in the meditative arts, comically so, in an effort to put up personal boundaries before finally finding someone who actually helps him bring a semblance of order to the chaos. I loved what we got to know of this particular character, a lot, and hope he gets more page time in the next book, if there is another in the works.
As for the mystery, which quickly becomes mysteries, plural, the ghost of Mason Paige was another great add to the reading. Rain’s victims thus far have been charming, snarky, endearing, invited compassion, and are always unsure of who done them in. Mason was sweet and sympathetic, and his innate kindness added to the difficulty in solving his murder. Mason didn’t want several of the suspects to be guilty, which added to the sympathetic nature of his character and his death. As such, we get some good procedural investigation amidst the corresponding storylines as the PTU has the pressure of not only proving their necessity to the police force but to solve the other murders that continue piling up.
Rain and Danny’s romance is always front and center of the story, of course. Now that they’re back together, the sticking point in their relationship is whether or not they’re going to admit they actually live together in spite of them each having their own place, and does Danny trust that Rain isn’t going to leave him again like he had before—but, let’s face it, there were extenuating circumstances. These guys banter more than they have deep and meaningful conversations, which added some levity to the overall serious overtones of the story, but while a little snark is great, and there are some truly funny lines that had me chuckling gleefully, everything in moderation, including the cops/donuts shtick. At some point malnutrition has to factor in, if not the hefty bouts of repetition which grew increasingly annoying. But, to each their own.
The hunt for Mason’s killer produces plenty of viable suspects, nabs a couple of them on unrelated charges, and unearths a series of murders that reveal the team are, in fact, dealing with a serial killer. Things turn deadly for Rain, once again, as he closes in on solving the case. He has a tendency to dash headlong into danger, sans backup, giving Danny the opportunity to rush in and save the day. One can only hope Rain learns from those errors in judgement going forward.
The Spectral Files series, and this book in particular, offers up some good fun along with the serious nature of murder and supernatural mayhem. The whodunnit wasn’t delivered easily and the motive was satisfying even as it was correspondingly poignant and tragic. While I’m absolutely certain Harmon must tire of hearing it, this series is inevitably PsyCop adjacent and I had a difficult time not tallying the similarities while the initial world building was being laid down. The comparisons to Victor Bayne are bound to happen with any detective who sees and communicates with the dead. Fortunately, however, as the story proceeded and the characters and premise were further delineated, I was able to appreciate these books in their own right, and found Principles of Spookology itself an entertaining and satisfying read.
You can buy Principles of Spookology here:
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