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Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer: A Refreshing Look at Familiar Tales

Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted ArcherAn odd combination of interests led me to purchase the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer. On one hand, I have been studying the ghost lore of Archer Avenue since I was in high school. The first places I visited when I began my journey to explore the strange and unusual in Illinois were located along Archer Avenue. It is home to Resurrection Mary, perhaps the most famous ghost in America. On the other hand, I love pamphlets. When I first began publishing, I started by producing pamphlets very similar to this one. So when I saw this book at the Ashbary Coffeehouse, I knew I had to buy it.

Written by J.A. Dohm and published in 2012 by Studio of Muses and 20 Eyes Entertainment, Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer is a 42-page chapbook with 18 high quality black and white photographs. It retails for $9.99 and is devoted to the ghost lore of southwest suburban Chicago’s infamous Archer Avenue. It consists of two parts. The first is a treatise on ghost hunting and an explanation of what the author calls “Supernatural Forensics.” The second part is an exploration of some of the haunted locations along Archer Avenue, as told to the reader by a mysterious apparition named Virgil Masterson.

In the first half of the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer, J.A. Dohm applies his knowledge as a forensic science instructor to the field of ghost hunting and attempts to come up with a more scientific approach. He explains that the term “paranormal investigator” is an oxymoron because “paranormal” means something without scientific explanation. Supernatural, on the other hand, is just something that is beyond natural, or abnormal. This is just semantics, in my opinion, but the author believes it’s an important distinction.

He coins the phrase “Supernatural Forensics” to describe a more scientific approach to ghost hunting that focuses on producing real evidence of the spirit world. He then lists a dozen types of measurable activity that he believes would constitute substantive evidence. I won’t go into much detail about this part of the book, but it is worth reading. I thought the author made some excellent points. However, I felt this section was out of place. It almost made the main subject of the book seem like an afterthought.

I devoted an entire section of my book Paranormal Illinois to Archer Avenue, so I was really excited to read this pamphlet to see if there was anything new to discover about the area. In fact, Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer includes three locations that I did not cover in my book: the Willow-Brook Ballroom, Ashbary Coffeehouse, and the Irish Legend bar. The book leaves out several well-known locations that should have been included: the intersection of 95th and Kean, Fairmount Hills Cemetery, Archer Woods Cemetery, German Church Road, and Sacred Heart Cemetery, among others. I felt that the space devoted to the author’s treatise on ghost hunting could have been better spent on these locations.

Using a spirit named Virgil Masterson to tell the story of Archer Avenue was a unique literary device that I found both entertaining and refreshing. Although the narrator’s unique voice starts to disappear as the book moves along, his storytelling is often humorous. In the chapter on Maple Lake, he recounted how a filmmaker recently chose that location for a movie and hired two actors. Referring to the project as “thespian terror,” the narrator remarked, “The acting duo was by far the scariest thing to haunt the woods in a while.”

Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Archer had a very limited distribution, so locating a copy might be difficult. However, if you can find one, it is worth owning. I would suggest heading down to the Ashbary Coffeehouse in Willow Springs, Illinois. Ask for the book, order a meal, and who knows—you just may encounter one of Archer Avenue’s many elusive spirits.

Sorry guys, this page is copyright Black Oak Media, inc., 2014. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work.

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