Thursday, September 11, 2008

REVIEW: Unquiet Spirit

Title: Unquiet Spirit
Author: Derek Wilson
ISBN: 9780786718542
Protagonist: Parapsychologist Dr. Nathaniel Gye
Setting: present-day Cambridge, England
Series: #3
Rating: D+
First Line: It was a perfect night for a ghost hunt.

St. Thomas's College, Cambridge, is in deep financial difficulties, and all the rumors about ghosts on the F staircase aren't helping matters. A compromise of sorts is reached, and Psychic Investigation Unit is allowed to set up its equipment. Unfortunately a professor dies of a heart attack during the proceedings. Now the college is really in a bind with the press barrage and threats of being sued by the professor's widow. The Master of St. Thomas asks Dr. Nathaniel Gye to make discreet inquiries in an effort to ending the whole sorry business. A reclusive billionaire has offered to help the college out of its financial bind, and the Master doesn't want him scared off. Gye reluctantly finds himself investigating and finds that many strands of the mystery lead back to the supposed suicide of an undergraduate ten years previously.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, although it had very little of the paranormal within its pages. I found the character of Gye engaging enough to try another. Somehow I skipped the second and landed on this one, the third. It's incredibly short--a mere 187 pages--and although I've read shorter books that packed a satisfying wallop, Unquiet Spirit does not rank among them. Once again, although the series is touted as having a parapsychologist as the main character, nothing even slightly paranormal makes an appearance anywhere within the book--just "rumors". It's obvious that Gye doesn't give the paranormal even a passing glance before he begins to investigate. There are several plot threads that could have been pursued but were not. The question of fidelity between Gye and his wife was raised, but it felt as if that particular device was used more in an attempt to flesh out the anorexic characterization than anything else. (It failed.) The entire book read as if it were a feebly fleshed-out rough draft, or a book written in haste in the glare of impending deadlines. I was left so dissatisfied over this barely adequate book that I have no desire to read the one that I missed. All in all, a very promising series that failed to live up to that promise.

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