Poltergeist! Ask the Dust

Poltergeist! Ask the Dust Book Page

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I’m not your ordinary gumshoe. My name’s Nina Cohen. Born: 1898, died: 1912. Sojourned in the Shards of Creation. Not recommended. Now I’m a poltergeist. After years of cheap laughs possessing cats and throwing things around, I’m back in a human body. I live alone. I work from home. My computer hates me—I have to wear gloves to touch it—I watch entirely too much TV, and I talk to my cat. Say hello, Djinn.


It’s not your ordinary case, either. LakePort, 6 April 2012: Bartender Mike Berg left his foul-mouthed cockatoo named George W. Bush with his sister, gassed up his truck, and left town to go camping. He never came back. After ten years with no answers, his father hired me to find him. What I found was a giant hairball of drug dealers, organized crime, crooked cops, love, sex, murder, and darker things that will eat your soul. Literally. Nom nom. It’ll be my first solo case, if I can avoid getting killed…again. Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t like Elvis, for reasons.


Cronenberg rubs his face with both hands. “You said he was possessed. You’re basing it on what he said about his drug trip?”

I nod. “Yeah. The simplest thing was to kill me. Instead, he just—messed with me. Played head games, and then dropped me in an alley naked, like it was all a big joke to him. Poltergeists won’t usually kill outright unless they have to, or unless someone with a functional ruach is feeding them numa and commands it.”

Cronenberg’s face contorts into pure rage for just a fraction of a second, and stays cold after that. He glares at me. “How do you know so much about possession? He’s a very tall man with a gun and a nightstick. He’s loud when he shouts.

I find myself shaking, just to let the panic out of my brain a little. My voice squeaks. I start again. “Du-te dracu, Cronenberg. Look around you. These bookshelves aren’t filled with girly magazines, they’re books of lore. I’ve read them. Fletcher trained me. I lived with him for almost five years. How would I not know?”

Cronenberg lowers his face into his hands. I can’t see his expressions anymore. He curls his fingers against his face, and the muscles in his hands stand out. He’s shaking too. “I’m sorry,” he says, muffled. “I’m sorry. Not your war. Not your landmine. I was out of line.”

“Damn right you were. I threw the girly magazines out when Fletcher died.” Look away from Cronenberg. “Boy, was that awkward.”

Cronenberg stops shaking, which I hoped would happen. So do I, which I also hoped would happen. He looks at me, frowns, shakes his head, and says, “…what? I wasn’t talking about…”

Uncurl a little and hold up both hands. “I know, I know. I just—it’s how I cope. Crack wise. Helps me not take everything so seriously. Falling apart hurts too much.”

He rubs one of his arms with the hand of the other and manages an uneasy chuck, perhaps the other half of the full chuckle from the first time I met him. You can’t leave those lying around. He leans back into his chair. Djinn rubs against one of his ankles, and he reaches down to run his fingers through Djinn’s fur. They both close their eyes. Only one of them purrs.

Copyright 2007-2024 James R. Strickland, All Rights Reserved.