Alan Brown,
Ghost Hunters of the South
(University Press of Mississippi, 2006)

Ghost Hunters of the South is a crown jewel for the horror fan. This is a must-own for every true horror lover. First, it gives you plenty of reading for your money -- almost 400 pages. Second, it provides you with the current information about 42 ghost hunting organizations in 12 southern states. Third, the most memorable stories of these ghost hunters' experiences will stand your hair on end and leave you rolling in the floor. Either they scare the wits out of you or they are the most hilarious knee-slappers that you have heard about spooky encounters.

Brown really did everything right with this book. Instead of simply referencing the ghost hunting groups and penning profiles of them, he designed interviews that collected their best and worst anecdotes. Those tales of outings made this book rise above the rest on the market.

Brown actually went on some of the outings with these groups to learn firsthand what the experiences are like. His practical experience lends ease to his explanations and descriptions and he has acquired a thorough understanding of the equipment and processes involved.

This book answers all of your questions about ghost hunting. It seems that most persons get involved to simply answer their own questions about what happens to the soul after death. They explain that ghost hunting is something that costs a lot of money and takes up a lot of time. Most of the group admit that they never expect to recoup their own monetary investments and that they are certainly not in it for the money. In my eyes, it seems like an adrenalin rush and something that is ideal for the adrenalin junkie. The group members come from all walks of life and all backgrounds.

If you live anywhere in the South, there is likely a ghost hunting group near you. I have lived in this area for four years or so and never knew there is a ghost hunting group some 15 miles from me. Most do not advertise except for their websites.

At the end of the book, there is a glossary, filmography and listing of television shows and documentary movies. There is the standard index and bibliography for further reading.

I really like Brown's writing style. His narratives flow smoothly and are vividly picturesque. He mixes his narratives with direct quotes and recited anecdotes from the interview subjects for thrilling group profiles that read exactly like short horror stories. He knows how to heighten your suspense and tantalize each of your senses in the retelling of these ghost seeking adventures. Your emotions get played like a banjo -- with all the fingers.

Any person with an interest in ghosts or horror stories will love Ghost Hunters of the South. It takes you inside the ghost hunting groups and puts you in the action -- that thrill of the hunt (and all too often, the flight for safety). This book would make an exceptionally nice gift for almost anyone, even the skeptics. I cannot imagine any reader not enjoying this one, because even if you do not believe in ghosts, there are plenty of stories about "hauntings" that turned out to be raccoons or puppies or ... and these are often the ones that scared the members of the groups most. Folks, this book is a magnificent read, no matter how you evaluate it. It is just plain fun!

Alan Brown is an English Professor and director of the Writing Center at the University of West Alabama. His numerous books include Stories from the Haunted South and Haunted Places in the American South.

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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