Full disclosure: Tim kindly sent me a review copy of this book.
The executive summary: Guilt is a Ghost is a fine second offering in the adventures of ghost hunter Vera Van Slyke and her assistant Lucille Parsell (nee Ludmila Prasilova).
The operative phrase is second offering: I’m honestly not sure what a reader’s reaction would be if this were the first Vera Van Slyke book they read. (Tim Prasil apparently disagrees with me). Having read Help for the Haunted first (my review here), I came into Guilt is a Ghost familiar with the two main characters, and already quite fond of them. And that’s good, because I feel there is less characterization of Vera and her friendship with Lucille in this book than there was in the previous one.
EDIT 1/20/19: Help for the Haunted is back in print! See the page at Brom Bones Books for links.
EDIT 8/31/17: The Emby press edition of Help for the Haunted has unfortunately gone out of print. So Tim will be printing all 13 stories from the collection, one a month in chronological order, at his blog, starting 9/1/17.
When I realized who the ghost was in the first story of Tim Prasil’s new collection Help for the Haunted, I knew I was in for a good time.
The rest of the volume didn’t disappoint. Help for the Haunted is a fun collection of linked short stories, based around a creative theory as to why ghosts are able to return to the plane of the living, and a cute way of detecting these crossovers. Within that framework fall all manner of ghosts and manifestations; every story offers a different kind.
The tales are tightly enough coupled and have enough progression that I’m tempted to categorize the book as a “short story cycle” style novel. The narrator is Tim’s great-grandaunt Lida Prasilova, writing about her adventures with early twentieth century muckraker journalist and occult detective Vera Van Slyke. I love the rapport between Vera and Lida. They’re like a beer-drinking, ghost-hunting Holmes and Watson, if Holmes and Watson were American women.
Like Holmes, Vera’s mind is dedicated wholly to the information she needs for her job. She’s not much for literature (classical or popular), and she’s hilariously bad with names. She doesn’t have much to do with the opposite sex, mostly I think because they can’t handle her. Lida was a fraudulent medium, whom Vera unmasked. She agrees to help Vera with her exposé of the Spiritualism industry, Spirits Shouldn’t Sneeze (what a great title), and eventually becomes Vera’s assistant — and dearest friend.