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Literature / Ghost Finders

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From left to right: Melody, J.C., "Happy" Jack Plamer
A six-book series by Simon R. Green, Ghost Finders follows closely in the same vein as his two other urban fantasy series (Nightside and Secret Histories). It follows the adventures of a team from the Carnacki Institute, which wants to Do Something about ghosts (and other weirdness) - JC Chance, a perpetually optimistic, arrogant blowhard (who always turns out to be right, in the end); Melody, the team's tech guru who turns into a Lovable Sex Maniac after hours; and Happy, a "class 11 telepath" on enough drugs to empty out a pharmacy, who can almost never think positively (unless on certain types of the aforementioned drugs).
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On their tails are members of the rival group, the Crowley Project: agents like Natasha Chang, a sadistic Rich Bitch of a telepath, and her sidekick (against her will) Erik Grossman, a physically and socially repulsive scientist with similarly repulsive scientific interests. At their backs, the indomitable Catherine Latimer, uncompromising head of the Institute who won't give in to bureaucratic foot-dragging, hidden traitors among her own senior agents, or whinging pleas for overtime. And on every side, the teeming forces of the supernatural, ready and waiting to overthrow the safe-and-sane daylight world for the legions of unquiet dead ... or the far more inhuman, destructive powers that would use ghosts and Ghost Finders, alike, for their own ends.

The series books are -

  • Ghost of a Chance (2010)
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  • Ghost of a Smile (2011)
  • Ghost of a Dream (2012)
  • Spirits From Beyond (2013)
  • Voices From Beyond (2014)
  • Forces from Beyond (2015)

Green's micro-budget horror film, Judas Ghost, features another Carnacki Institute team and could be considered a spin-off of this series.


This series provides examples of:

  • Batman Cold Open: If it's Simon R. Green...
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: JC and Kim didn't find each other until after she'd been murdered, but the Ghost Finders team leader and the ghost-girl are determined to keep their relationship despite Carnacki Institute rules and the frustration of being unable to touch each other.
  • Brain Bleach: Mind-twisting supernatural encounters aside, JC complains about needing to scrub out his brain with steel wool any time Melody and Happy start talking about their sex life.
  • Came Back Wrong: Kim isn't alive, but she's also much more than a ghost. JC does this on the train, thanks to the Light - he's fine, but his eyes shine through even his sunglasses.
  • Canon Welding: Not too overtly done in the first book, but the reference to Timeslips and making certain Nouns proper pretty much places this in the same universe.
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    • The Chimera House researchers seem to have more or less duplicated what the old Soviet scientists had been doing at Tunguska in The Spy Who Haunted Me.
    • Some cross-references to Julien Advent and the Droods turn up in the third book.
    • In the fourth, JC tells Kim he's been asking around the Nightside about ways the two of them might be able to touch one another, at least temporarily.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Happy detects three minds outside of his team in the first book. We only meet two until near the end.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Merging the minds and willpower of the team, so they all share in the "glow", often saves them when all else fails.
  • Companion Cube: Melody calls her trolley-load of equipment her "babies" and regularly coos to or threatens them.
  • Covers Always Lie: None of the cover images show JC with his Light-given glowing eyes, possibly because it'd be pretty difficult to illustrate them.
  • Crapsack World: It's part of the same universe as every other Simon R. Green novel... compared to all the others, though, this one takes the cake.
  • Dating Catwoman: Humans and ghosts aren't supposed to date, no matter which group you're a part of. Which is admittedly part of why JC does it.
    • Given a unique twist in the final novel, in which JC is no longer dating a ghost ... because Kim's soul has taken up permanent residence in recurring adversary Natasha Chang's vacated body. So he's still Dating Catwoman, but in a different way.
  • Deus ex Machina: JC's manifestation of the Light.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Twice in the first book. The first happened in the Batman Cold Open, where they sent a primordial Presence packing by feeding it a ghost, thus giving it spiritual indigetsion. Then, at the end, they do it again to Fenris. Despite its psychic assaults and the sheer overwhelming power of its presence, the team(s) have been trained to face off against something like him; so, when they finally see him face to face, they merely laugh in its face and throw it way off balance while they formulate a plan.
    • Being rated as an A-team for the Carnacki Institute means that punching out Cthulhu is their job.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Natasha is a twisted mix of Happy and JC. Erik is the Spear Counterpart of Melody, also twisted (and downright inverted in a lot of areas...)
  • Eldritch Abomination: Considering this is Urban Fantasy by Simon R. Green, it'd be disappointing if there WASN'T at least one. In the first book, it's Fenris Tenebrae, the Wolf of Shadows who will devour the sun and moon. Or would have, if the team hadn't kicked its ass (metaphorically) back to whichever afterworld it came from. In the second, a new Big Bad example called the Flesh Undying is introduced, and it's making its presence felt more directly by the third. In the fourth, it's the unnatural storm, and in the fifth it's the Beast.
  • Foreshadowing: In book four, Happy remarks when they arrive at the inn that a storm is coming, and it's going to be a monster. Turns out the storm is the monster in that novel.
  • Future Me Scares Me: JC has an alarming encounter with a battered and dying future version of himself at the start of the main investigation in Voices. Future Melody also appears, and is much much more menacing, while Future Happy is pitiable but helpful.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: JC Chance seems to have the good equivalent.
    • As does Catherine Latimer, their boss, although she's learned to hide them.
  • Haunted House: Surprisingly averted for the first four books: they've had haunted factories, parking lots, subway and train stations, corporate facilities, theaters and inns, but no houses. Not until book 5 does the series show us haunted houses, and one of them isn't a home anymore, but a mansion converted into a radio station.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • in Ghost of a Smile the new people and Gog And Magog.
    • Ghost of a Dream The Faust.
    • In Voices from Beyond, future Melody has been turned into one by the Beast.
  • Ironic Nickname: Happy Jack Palmer
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: In the first novel, the ravenous shark-vampires turn upon and devour their fellows every time the agents manage to injure or kill one.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: JC's favorite all-purpose supernatural party trick/weapon: a monkey's paw made over into a Hand of Glory.
  • Noodle Incident: The team has been working together for several years. These pop up quite often.
    • So do references to old cases their boss worked on, or to the Crowley agents' criminal pasts.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: It's an ensemble series by Simon R. Green, so what else could it be?
  • Running Gag: Any time one of the trio nags another about Happy's struggles with addiction, JC's and Kim's mortal/ghost relationship, Melody's equipment not being available, or anything else frustratingly futile, the nagged party concedes with an identical "I know!"
  • Shout-Out: The Institute's and series names are a reference to Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, who explicitly exists in Green's Verse.
    • A handsome, overconfident team leader in spotless white, a techie girl genius who needs artificial means to See phenomena her companions can, a gorgeous fashionista redhead who vanishes from time to time, and a self-deprecating coward who has to scarf down something addictive to work up his nerve? All that's missing is the big talking dog...
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The various ghostly presences and threats encountered by JC's team sometimes seen awfully patient about waiting for the trio to finish wisecracking or arguing before the fur starts flying.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Book five never says if Volke's graduate students ever got their correct bodies back, or even which ones wound up where.
    • Book six has a quick reference to fixing it "taking months".
  • Who You Gonna Call?
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