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Nolan's Pop Culture Review--now in our third calendar year!
PCR # 100 (Vol. 3, No. 8) This edition is for the week of February 18--24, 2002.

Murder on the Woo-Woo Express by Patty G. Henderson

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Most of you visiting the Express will recognize the play on words. Murder on the Orient Express was one of Agatha Christie's crowning achievements in mystery fiction.

The term "woo woo" is used in the mystery writing and reading community as an endearing description for the use of supernatural elements in a mystery. As a writer of supernatural mysteries myself, I wanted a unique place for writers, readers and the curious to come and share in the celebration of an often overlooked yet persistently popular sub genre of the generic mystery.

So now that you know the how and the why of MURDER ON THE WOO WOO EXPRESS, I hope you'll stick around for the ride. Sit back and enjoy reviews of books old and new that treat us not just to cops and robbers, but that boldly sprinkle, or in some cases, splash liberally, a tingling dose of ghosts, vampires, witchcraft, demons, psychics and all things beyond the norm.

For starters, MURDER ON THE WOO WOO EXPRESS will keep a monthly schedule of reviews. If you'd like to have your book reviewed at MURDER ON THE WOO WOO EXPRESS, email me and I'll send you my address. I will review arcs and printed books only. At 51, my eyesight is a precious resource, so I won't read computer print, although this may change in the future. There is a plethora of e-book mysteries using the supernatural and the paranormal currently being published and I may change my mind about reviewing them. Only mysteries with a supernatural element will be considered for review. If you'd like some idea of what a supernatural mystery is, check out any of Martha C. Lawrence's Elizabeth Chase, PI books, "Five Mile House" by Karen Novak, "Suspicion" by Barbara Rogan, the Nick Tartaglia PI series by Philip Tomasso, or of course, my book, "The Burning of Her Sin." And let's not forget that so many of Barbara Michaels' other books are marvelous supernatural mysteries as well as romantic suspense.

For this first, inaugural trip of the Woo Woo Express, I've chosen a book I believe is the finest modern day woo woo mystery. AMMIE, COME HOME has been through countless printings, large print and paperbacks and still continues to frighten and delight readers.

              From the end flaps of AMMIE, COME HOME:
Ammie Come Home, 1968 edition
1968, Meredith Press edition
  For the guests at Ruth Bennet's fashionable Georgetown home, the sťance was just a playful diversion . . . until Ruth's niece Sara spoke in a deep guttural voice not her own . . . and the game became frighteningly real.. The New York Times calls Miss Michaels a specialist, saying, "When the sťances get going and the ghosts walk (and talk), even the nonbelievers take notice."
  When Ruth Bennett inherits an old family house in the historic Georgetown section of Washington, she feels that she has found a fitting sanctuary for the life of ordered tranquility that she built after her tragic brief marriage and the death of her husband.

  Within a year, however, Ruth's peaceful existence is changed. Her niece Sara comes to live with her, bringing the fresh attitudes and broader outlook of a new generation. Sara also introduces Ruth to her anthropology professor, Pat MacDougal, who reawakens emotions Ruth had thought forever lost.
  Soon another personality follows Sara into Ruth's world. It is seen in Sara's face and speaks through Sara's lips. Frightening and frightened, it is the spirit of Amanda Campbell - Ammie - which is implored by a ghostly voice to come home.

  Convinced against her will, Ruth watches with fear and horror as the forces which surround Ammie increase in power, threatening them all, forcing her to test her newfound love in an atmosphere of danger and suspicion.

Ammie Come Home, current edition
Current paperback edition
What the copy writers don't tell you is that this classic woo woo mystery is dripping with atmosphere. It's got all the ingredients for a top notch mystery and supernatural suspense.

Barbara Michaels mixes her genres better than most. In AMMIE, COME HOME, she's got Ruth, a heroine who inherits a beautiful old home in the Georgetown section of Washington. Not long after, she meets the man who becomes more than she bargained for and her niece Sara seems to bring out the worst in the house. With language beautiful in its gothic voice, Michaels weaves a tale of a horrendous murder that still threatens Ruth and her loved ones.

AMMIE, COME HOME is the best American supernatural mystery of the 20th century. I can't wait for another writer to tackle the challenge of writing a book that will give Barbara Michaels serious competition.

In closing this premiere issue of MURDER ON THE WOO WOO EXPRESS, I want to encourage anyone to feel free and email your comments, suggestions and discussion of the column.

EMAIL: SoDeadme@aol.com

"Murder on the Woo-Woo Express" is ©2002 by Patty G. Henderson.   Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova ©2002.   All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova