Books: Spooked a suitable scare

BY KYLIE KLEIN-NIXON
Last updated 13:42 22/11/2011

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REVIEW: I hate to break it to you, but no spooks, spectres or wraiths crowd the eaves of musty belfries, or cluster, gibbering and clanking their chains in the depths of bedroom closets.

Echoes of the dead do not roam the empty halls of crumbling piles searching for their long lost teeth. There are no such things as ghosts.

But oh, how I wish there were. So too, one would think, do paranormal investigators Jo Davies and James Gilberd, who claim to have seen things they could not explain. These event lead them to Strange Occurrences, a paranormal investigation group established in Wellington in 2005, who investigate claims of supernatural visitations and events using scientific techniques.

Spooked: Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand is a chattily written collection of their case studies and investigations, interspersed with guides to investigating the unexplained in Aotearoa.

Covering "paranormal events" from the banal - a haunted basement beneath a Dunedin YHA - to the terrifying - vengeful night time attacks by black spectres - Spooked takes you inside the strange, but undeniably appealing world of New Zealand's biggest and best qualified - one of the team has a PhD! - ghost hunters.

All joking aside, the team are consistently and genuinely sceptical.

They are also ruthlessly transparent, fessing up to their own blunders, and are not above giving mundane reasons for apparitions.

Reflected light is a common cause of ghosting in photographs, people's minds do actually run away with them sometimes, "ectoplasm" has nothing to do with true unexplained phenomena, and everything to do with vaudevillian entertainment.

With all this bizarre and occult information, Spooked is a smashing read if you have ever fancied yourself something of an arm chair Peter Venkman.

The genuine accounts of experiences of the people interviewed, as well as the team's own gut churning chronicles, are suitably spine-chilling and the myth-busting information is fresh, well written and fun.

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