Recent Reads: Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil and Offbeat Crimes

So this week on Recent Reads, we venture into the realm of paranormal romance. It might be a few weeks beyond Halloween but it’s never too late for a cracking Halloween story, especially one from Amy Spector who excels at her own distinctive brand of Gothic noir. In Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil, there’s not only an old and supposedly haunted house that holds many secrets, but also a great cast of characters.

Owen Key, starting again at 34, has returned to the Printer’s Devil, a rambling bookshop he inherited from his estranged father, together with some quirky employees with a tendency for practical jokes which comprises his social life. When Findley Black, who runs a local ghost tour, approaches him hoping to get permission to spend the night ghost hunting at the store, Owen has hopes of a quick fling.

I relished the blend of romance, ghost story and sense of community in this wonderful story. Although very much a Halloween story, I really enjoyed that the focus was on relationships, be they estranged family, over-chatty employees, or a promising romantic connection. And the Printer’s Devil provided plenty of atmospheric spookiness! This story, along with all of Amy’s titles is in the JMS Books 60% off ebook Black Friday sale.

Angel Martinez has been on my to-read list for longer than I would like to admit, and now I’ve found her marvellous 6-book series, Offbeat Crimes, she will be on my must-read list! These paranormal detective stories take place in an alternative version of contemporary America, where paranormal beings are regularly incorporated into the police service. However, there are always those misfits whose ‘gifts’ don’t quite fit or are so specific to appear practically useless, and that is where Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct comes in handy for defective vampires, a lizard and wolfman, or those with an affinity for fruit or waterfowl, and those are the most straightforward ones!

Without giving away any spoilers for this treat of a series, these stories are charming, quirky, imaginative and downright funny. I love seamless the world-building and the mix of contemporary city life with added monsters, mayhem and paranormal goings-on. The plots are as inventive as the story titles (I mean, who could resist Feral Dust Bunnies), fast-paced and occasionally genuinely scary, especially as we become attached to members of our crew who are in peril.

In the first story, Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters, the officers of the 77th Precinct are a disparate bunch, but as the narrative continues (with a changing narrator for each story) and individuals find love and understanding, morale is boosted and our ‘useless’ oddballs become an effective team. It’s that wonderful mix of weirdness and warmth with truly likeable characters that makes Offbeat Crimes such an inventive delight.

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