The Haunted Heart and Other Tales – Jameson Currier (Lethe Press)

Buy it Now at Giovanni’s Room or at Amazon through The Dreamwalker Group.

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, most everyone has a ghost story. Some are scornful, some fully embrace the spirit world and others ride the fence. Jameson Currier has told a bunch of them in his career and he’s finally collected them in one spectral bundle called “The Haunted Heart and Other Tales” from Lethe Press.

What impressed me most about this collection is the wide variety of stories. Currier’s subjects, both human and spirit, are from varied walks of life – and afterlife. His characters are not merely stock players sent to deliver a scare but nicely fleshed out, three-dimensional people. Yes, even the ones who have no flesh.

The universality of these stories also strikes me. It could be a straight couple with kids in the chilling haunted snow-globe story, “The Woman at the Window” or in the breathless action of the crazy-jealous lover shooting “Incident at the Highlands Inn,” but Currier’s gay characters claim these tales, making them ours. Powerful stuff, indeed.

The title story, “The Haunted Heart” is all ours, being about not only AIDS but also about one of those lifelong friendships many of us have that could, at any point, turn a beautiful romance. This story is exceptional for the subject matter as well as being from the point of view of the ghost, a sailor who latches on to many of the central character as he travels from one location to the next.

Other standouts for me include “Wait!” about an encounter with a ghostly boy as well as his live parents, “The Man in the Mirror,” which recently appeared in Icarus (see our very first review for this blog) and “Death in Amsterdam,” whose ending took me back to the last shocking frames of an old Donald Sutherland movie, “Don’t Look Now.”

So, forget the beach reading. Summer’s over and autumn creeps up on us like a shadow in the sunlight. Celebrate it by reading this perfectly chilling collection of tales from one of the modern masters of the genre. And don’t let that squeaky floorboard distract you – there’s no such thing as ghosts, right?

Right.

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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