Book Review: Deadly Spirits by E. Michael Helms
Title: Deadly Spirits (A Mac McClellan Mystery Book 4)
Author: E. Michael Helms
Genre: Hard-Boiled Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Camel Press, January 3, 2017
Kindle Pages: 268 Pages
When PI Mac McClellan’s girlfriend convinces him to join the Palmetto Paranormal Society, he becomes embroiled in a case of whooodunnit. The society president, while investigating an old hotel, is found dead at the foot of the stairwell, his neck broken. The man’s secretary and current squeeze stands horrified beside his body. Authorities rule the death an accident. Mac has doubts—no one heard the man tumbling down the stairs. Then the secretary dies in an apparent suicide. Two deaths in two paranormal investigations, and not a peep out of either victim. Mac suspects there’s more going on than a vengeful spirit.
This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Helms, and it won’t be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this quintessential private eye story and the interplay of paranormal that simmers in the background. True to the crime mystery genre, Deadly Spirits contained a hard-edged, wise-cracking PI fond of alcohol, food, beautiful women, and a list of unscrupulous characters linked to crimes and mysterious murders in a small coastal community. Mac McClelland, ex-marine turned Private Investigator, cast witty idioms as often as he casts an eye at women, but Mac’s only love is for his girlfriend, Kate, and his constant canine companion, Henry.
Since Mac joined the Palmetto Paranormal Society at the request of his girlfriend, members start dropping like flies. Murders, Mac sets out to solve, are more intricate than they first appear. During his Investigation, he uncovers blackmail, infidelities, sexual abuse, seduction, and a cold-case mystery reopens with an inkling of the supernatural. Mr. Helms crafts a tightly woven plot with several subplots weaved with twists and turns that leave the reader guessing to the end.
Deadly Spirits takes place in a coastal town that’s dear to my heart, the Florida Panhandle. Written beautifully in the first person POV, Mr. Helm’s prose is so descriptive, the reader will sense balmy, salty breezes, and winged wildlife swooping in and around the coastal community. Mr. Helm’s novel is a gastronomic feast of American fare and alcohol that will make you hungry and crave a beer or two. Dining and drinking is as much a part of the story as the murderous mayhem. I pondered, whether Mac’s meeting with clients and suspects over meals was a modus of acquiring information. Alcohol and a good meal will loosen tight lips.
Deadly Spirits is a fast-paced, page-turner I couldn’t put down. The pacing was perfect for a murder mystery, with just the right action and more twists and turns than the tornado threatening Palmetto County’s shores. The story climax with one surprise after the next, culminating in a shocking conclusion I didn’t see coming. The ending was satisfying, but I question whether Mac is now a true believer In the paranormal? Hmm… perhaps. I highly recommend Mr. Helms book to everyone, and anyone looking for a great Private Eye, whodunit murder mystery. Mr. Helms, thank you for the fantastic read!
E. Michael Helms is a USMC combat veteran. His memoir of the Vietnam War, The Proud Bastards, has been called “As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written . . . a modern military classic,” and has been in print for over 20 years.
Book One of his two-part saga of the Civil War, Of Blood and Brothers, was released in September 2013, with Book Two following in March 2014. The first of his Mac McClellan Mysteries, Deadly Catch, was published in November 2013. Deadly Ruse, the second in the series, was released November 2014. Deadly Ruse won the 2015 RONE Award for Best Mystery. Deadly Dunes launched in March 2016, followed by Deadly Spirits in January 2017. The Private War of Corporal Henson, a semi-autobiographical fictional sequel to his memoir, The Proud Bastards, premiered in June 2014.
Helms lives with his wife in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upstate region of South Carolina, where they enjoy canoeing, hiking and bird watching.
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