Excerpt from Deadly Spirits

Author’s note: Deadly Spirits: A Mac McClellan Mystery (#4) will be released by Coffeetown/Camel Press on January 15. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1. Please pardon the ungainly formatting–it does not resemble the finished book.


deadly_spiritsI felt like a complete idiot following my girlfriend, Kate

Bell, up the narrow dusty stairs to the attic above the third

floor. I wiped another cobweb out of my face and beard as Kate

turned the antique glass knob. The door creaked open. She

shined the small flashlight around the room before stepping

inside. At five-eight in addition to her new jogging shoes, she

barely cleared the top of the doorway.


“Well, are you coming?” she asked as I hesitated by the open



“I don’t know. There might be a ghooost in there!”


She fought back a smile. “Very funny, Mac. Get your butt in

here, you big, bad, hunky Marine.”


What a man won’t do for love. To avoid a crack on the

forehead, I ducked and followed Kate inside the cluttered old

room. Dust rose and floorboards groaned with every step.

“We sure as hell aren’t going to sneak up on any spooks in this

place,” I said.


Kate huffed. “They are not spooks, they’re ghosts, or spirits.

How about showing a little respect for the dead?”


“Pardon me. My apologies to the dearly departed.”


For the last month Kate had been driving me nuts bugging

me to join the Palmetto Paranormal Society. To keep the peace,

I’d finally relented. The old Navarro Hotel on the northern

outskirts of Parkersville was my first paranormal investigation,

although I’ve been a licensed private investigator for about a

year now. I’d been living comfortably on my monthly military

retirement check until a long-dead boyfriend from Kate’s

past showed up alive. You could say I’d been “drafted” into

working for Hightower Investigations, a PI business owned

and operated by Frank Hightower. Headquarters is in Destin,

Florida, Kate’s hometown. Frank’s on the backside of sixty, and

a lifelong friend of the Bell family. He’s “Uncle Frank” to Kate.


When I retired from the Marine Corps two plus years ago

after a twenty-four year career, I put down roots in St. George,

a coastal village in the eastern Florida Panhandle. Meeting

Kate, who worked at Gillman’s Marina, played a big part in

my decision to stay. Her good looks, knockout figure, and

feistiness grabbed me from the beginning. I had no clue then

that I’d soon be working as a private eye. But that’s another



There was a light turnout for tonight’s investigation. Maybe

the rest of the members were out drinking margaritas in

celebration of Cinco de Mayo. That sure beat chasing after ghosts

in this ramshackle building. Kate and I were covering the third

floor and attic of the dilapidated hotel, which dated back to the

early twentieth century. Len and Marsha Cavanaugh, a retired

couple in their late sixties, were snooping around the second

floor. The first floor was the responsibility of Dr. Ernest Bagwell,

our fearless leader and professor of psychology at Parkersville

University. The prof was accompanied by his secretary and

current squeeze, Stella Crawford, a pixyish redhead with an

hourglass figure.


“Check the room for cold spots,” Kate said as she placed

some sort of ghost meter in the middle of the floor.


“Aye aye, ma’am.” I aimed the pistol-shaped infrared

thermometer around the room, watching the red dot dancing

on the walls.


“Well?” Kate said after a minute.


“Negative on the cold spots. Too bad, it’s hot as hell up here.”


Kate snorted and said, “All you’ve done is complain since we

got here.”


“Well, the Braves are playing the Nationals tonight. They’re

tied for first.”


Kate ignored my remark. “Let’s try an EVP session. You sit

on the chest over by that wall.” She pointed across the room

with her flashlight. “I’ll sit here. And make sure your recorder

is turned on.”


“Ma’am, yes ma’am.” I creaked across the attic floor to the old

chest and used my salty Braves cap to knock off layers of dust.

“What’s that mean, again?”


Kate sighed. “Electronic voice phenomena. I see you’ve

really been studying the book I gave you.”


“Oh yeah, this is where we get to talk to the spooks hanging

out up here.”


Kate shined the beam in my face. “Why don’t you just go

home and watch your stupid game?”


Oops. She was getting pissed. “I’m sorry. I know this stuff’s

important to you. I’ll behave.”


“Thank you. Now, is your recorder turned on?”


“Roger that.”


“Okay. Remember to talk as if you’re having a normal

conversation,” Kate said. “I’ll go first. Is there anybody with us



No answer.


“We mean you no harm. We’d just like to communicate with



I struggled to keep from laughing.


“Did you die in this hotel? Are you trapped here?”


Silence for a moment, and then Kate pressed a finger to her

lips. “Shh …. Did you hear that?”




“It sounded like a thump. Didn’t you hear it?”




Kate looked disappointed. “Why don’t you ask a question, Mac.

Maybe they’ll respond to a man’s voice.”


Some people never learn, but I couldn’t resist. I mustered up

the most serious voice I could manage. Whoooo’s winning the

Braves’ game?”


Kate bounced out of the old chair. “Dang it, Mac, can’t

you— ”


A blood-curdling scream from below cut her off.



Michael Helms grew up along the coast of the Florida panhandle, the setting for the Mac McClellan Mystery series. He now lives in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains where he continues to take dictation from Mac, Kate, and other recurring characters who refuse to leave him alone. Visit his website for further info:




15 thoughts on “Excerpt from Deadly Spirits

  1. I was a beta reader for Deadly Spirits. It is a fantastic book- one you don’t want to miss. I’ve read the entire series to date. In fact, Mac introduced me to Mike. I’ve loved watching the characters grow and change over the course of the series. Don’t miss this edition!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have read DEADLY SPIRITS prior to publication and loved it and reviewed it. I like this excerpt as it shows the funny thread in it that marks the whole series which i have also read. It’s rich with description (of a lot of hot women) as all Michael’s books are. Wonderful layered plot and lots of action. I like it best and as Margot said it’s neat to watch the characters grow. Oh, and I like watching Henry grow and the description of his saliva output is hilarious. I have a salivating Doberman too but I can’t say he’s a “chick magnet”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks MJ, and Henry sends his thanks, too. Yep, Henry is quite the chick magnet. Poor Mac is always playing second fiddle to Henry when it comes to the ladies. That’s why Mac hopes to come back as a handsome dog in his next life. Thanks for the wonderful review you gave, and your continuing support of MMO! 🙂


  3. I’ll add my voice to the chorus of raves for this newest Mac adventure! I’ve admired every one of the “Deadly” books to date, and this one sounds as though it will be the best yet — a complicated mix of characters and possibilities, all in the shadow of spooky night 🙂 Thanks for all you do, Mike, to make Mac come alive for us! (And DO tell us another Mac mystery will be coming our way at some point…!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Big here over your kind comments, Ellen. I personally think this is my favorite “Mac” book so far. And yep, another is on the way this September (IF I ever finish the darn thing!): Deadly Verse (Mac Mystery #5). Hope you enjoy “Spirits,” and thanks again for your support. HAPPY TRAILS! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now what in the world does THAT mean??? I’ve been trying to figure out the word I mean as I mistakenly typed in “here.” I promise I wasn’t inebriated or otherwise messed up (much too early). 🙂 I obviously was in a rush and keyed in “here” when I meant something else entirely. Oh well, my bad. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s