We have always been afraid of the castle… by Lynn Cahoon

When Jill Gardner (A DEADLY BREW) is invited to a Halloween lock in with her beau and three other couples, Greg packs the beer, and Jill? She brings the books. Since she owns the local bookstore, that’s not unusual. Scary, Halloween books to read around the fireplace once the doors of the old house have been locked and the group of friends are ready for ghost stories.

I’ve always loved ghost stories. Give me a good gothic castle with sightings around every corner and maybe a disappearance or two. It’s the anticipation of the fright rather than the visualization of the gore that I enjoy.

One of the local favorites was a haunted tree out near the old Veteran’s home. The story was the plot of land used to be a graveyard. When I was a teenager, it was a place for kids to park and drink and well, other things. On the side of the road was a tree. Some days the tree was inside the fence. And some days, according to local legend, the tree was outside.

Then there was the sixties song about picking up a girl on the side of the road. A girl who disappeared out of the car when you passed the graveyard.

I’m like Jill. I love my ghost stories in books where I can close the cover and leave the story inside while I sleep with the lights on.

Some of my favorite reads?  WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson. Part mystery, part coming of age story, the narrator is probably the first unreliable narrator I’ve read. The story has always haunted me, especially the rhymes the girl chants and has chanted at her.

GHOST STORY by Peter Straub. This story focuses on one main truth. You can’t run from your past. Especially when you’ve done something unforgiveable. I can still see the hand on the window…

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson.  The remade movie (The Haunting) doesn’t do the story justice. The way the carvings in the bedroom came alive, it’s made me rethink any piece of furniture with decorative touches.

I wonder if I’m just afraid of castles? Maybe because of my addition to Dark Shadows as a kid? I wanted to be the governess wandering around those dank halls. And, if it hadn’t meant I would have had to watch over children, I might just have applied for one of those nanny positions in a European castle.

But modern ghost stories also rank high on my fear level. Like Stephen King’s THE SHINING. The book should be required reading for all adults during the month of October. And like It’s a Wonderful Life, the movie should play 24/7 on at least one television channel. The ball room scene? Chills.

Jim Butcher played around with his wizard in the Dresden files and had him work a case as a ghost in GHOST STORY. Not scary, but a fun twist on the normal story.

I can’t end this list without mentioning THE EXORSIST BY Peter William Blattly. According to local legend, the actual rite was performed here in St. Louis at the old hospital. Now the location is a parking lot in view of the Cardinals baseball field. There are stories, of course, there are always stories…

So what are some of your favorite ghost stories?


As Halloween approaches South Cove, California, four couples get into the spirit of the holiday by conjuring up spirits. . .

The house has sat empty for fifteen years, taking up prime real estate along the picturesque coastline. Built by one of the founders of South Cove, its last known owner, Maryanne Demerit, vanished without a trace. Now her home will be demolished for a condo development, but until then, it’s the perfect spot for a Halloween haunted house.

Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, her boyfriend, and three other couples are spending the weekend in the Demerit home. But what begins as an all-in-good-fun fright fest turns into a mystery begging to be solved as Jill is contacted by the ghost of Maryanne . . .

Praise for The Tourist Trap Mysteries

“Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” —Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

“Lynn Cahoon has created an absorbing, good fun mystery in Mission to Murder.” —Fresh Fiction