In a new installment of Simon Green's Ishmael Jones series, Haunted by the Past, we continue following our hero in a new detective story with supernatural potential. While not a direct sequel to the first book, the elements introduced there are repeated to the reader's enjoyment. Mystery, comedy, and suspense entwine together in a solid detective story to become engrossed in.
From the synopsis:
Ismael Jones knows all there is to know about solving mysteries. Together with his love and partner in crimes, Penny Belcourt, he specializes in cases of the weird and uncanny.
Lucas Carr went to Glenbury Hall, an old country manor hours turned hotel. But he never got there. Somehow he vanished along the way, with not a single clue to suggest what might have happened to him.
Ishmael and Penny have to work their way through a series of mysterious clues and misleading suspects, uncovering secret after secret, before they finally arrive at a truth that no one suspected.
The problem with history is that it's not always content to stay in the past.
While the first Ishmael Jones book introduced all of the primary concepts for the character and world Simon Green has created, Haunted by the Past assumes the reader is already familiar with these and is now along for the ride. Be aware, some of the jokes which are passed between the two main characters might fall a little flat without having this introduction in place. The novel overall has a very playful manner between its characters in this way and could have curtailed those moments for more suspense. There are also many long sections of history-related exposition that is as much enlightening as they are somewhat dry.
Despite this, Haunted by the Past does not disappoint in its presentation or its characters. It has all the marks of a great series and remains an enjoyable read for fans of supernatural mystery. The slow build of its detective story does leave the reader guessing to the very end, and once Ishmael uncovers enough clues to confront the forces pitted against him, it concludes with a satisfying climax. Simon Green's inclusion of historical fact to tie into the novel's historical fantasy grounds the book in an interesting way the first novel did not have. Overall I recommend giving this and the previous book, The Dark Side of the Road a look.