The Fourth Haunting review: England’s most celebrated ghost hunter investigates | Books | Entertainment

The Fourth Haunting is a full-length paranormal thriller, F.G. Cottam’s latest foray into the world of the unknown, the uncertain and the sometimes very disconcerting.

Its central character is Tom Carter, introduced at the outset as Britain’s most celebrated ghosthunter, as he pitches the idea for his latest TV series to his regular producer.

A series of flashbacks tell us that Tom’s career derives from an experience at the age of eleven obliging him to believe that phantoms are not only real but sometimes malevolent.

A top hat comes more or less randomly into his youthful possession.

Something uncanny then occurs that intrigues him to discover more about the hat’s original owner.

And what he finds out about long-deceased shipping magnate Edward Swarbrick is both dark and sinister.

Though it propels his eventual career, the Swarbrick story also comes to haunt Carter, because of Swarbrick’s allegiance to a deadly cult, and because Carter’s probing brings him in the present-day to that cult’s unwelcome attention.

The early part of the novel concerns itself with an authentic account of an intelligent and ambitious teenager growing to maturity in the North of England in the 1970s.

It’s a world away from how we live in the present – no internet, no mobile phones, let
alone smart phones – and is vividly and sometimes fondly described.

Though the Tom Carter of the present is successful and even feted, he has a problematic daughter he adores. Their relationship is described with touching tenderness.

The fourth haunting of the title involves a derelict Chicago speakeasy owned in his pomp by the gangster Al Capone.

Carter goes there to investigate an alleged haunting despite grave warnings against doing so. What happens when he and his intrepid little team get there, you will have to discover for yourselves.

Available from and from in hardback, paperback and on Kindle.

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