Dark and Disorderly by Bernita Harris is a fascinating paranormal mystery. The author’s first novel starts with a pulse racing scenario and builds tension from there by combining eerily implausible circumstances with commonplace occurrences. Newly widowed, Lillie St. Claire is inexplicably attacked by her deceased husband on two separate occasions. She requests the assistance of the local authorities to deal with the apparent zombie attack but finds that her normal contact, the police chief, has also been attacked by a zombie. Lillie’s talent for exorcising ghosts was utilized by her husband and became a source of contention between them when she wouldn’t arbitrarily comply with his demands. She begins to feel threatened, particularly after a sighting of the Black Coach which normally heralds an upcoming death unless one knows how to stave off the calling of one’s name. Lillie is forced to deal with Sergeant John Thresher who seems to have more understanding of the paranormal world she operates in than most agents of the law. A struggle between the ASP (Against Spirit Pollution) and SOS (Save Our Spooks/Spirits) enmeshes Lillie in their conflict due to her abilities and her former husband’s position. The body count begins to rise with Lillie as one of the intended victims and she must discover who she can trust as she learns more and more about the secrets being withheld from her. The question becomes, can she live long enough to solve the mystery of her husband’s death?
A very enjoyable debut novel, filled with entertaining characters and delightful plot twists. The deft interweaving of various arcane beliefs with modern day investigative techniques form a truly enjoyable mystery with a twist. Dumbarton, the Mauthe Doog-type specter is particularly enjoyable as he becomes more and more corporeal and it is sincerely hoped that there will be more adventures involving Lillie St. Claire and the delicious John Thresher.