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by Peter Guttridge
Speck Press, January 2005
252 pages
ISBN: 0972577688

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Nick Madrid has once again found himself in a criminal situation thanks to his friend Bridget Frost. Bridget has a temporary job as editor of a Sunday morning magazine. This power allows her to hand out plush assignments to all of her friends.

Nick does not get a plush assignment. Instead, Bridget has a special assignment for him involving the supernatural. He is sent to Sussex to see Aschcombe Manor. This house apparently has haunted graves and Aleister Crowley lived there at the height of his fame. There happens to be a New Age Conference Centre at the Manor and he is not welcome to attend. Rather than allow this to deter her, Bridget decides that Nick should spend the night in the local graveyard and find the ghosts that live there.

Nick does not find any ghosts; however, he does discover a new body. This corpse is rather recent and looks to have been murdered. In fact, the position of the body looks just like the picture of the Hanged Man in a tarot set Nick later finds. As Nick found the body, he feels a need to find the murderer as well.

Bridget has another assignment for him in Brighton where a Hollywood movie about Aleister Crowley is being filmed. This film helps Nick identify connections between the murder, Crowley and Satanism. Unfortunately, it does not provide solid evidence as to the murderer's identity. Nick must somehow muddle through the evidence and find the killer before he strikes again.

As always, Peter Guttridge tells an amusing tale. The characters are well developed and quirky while the plot is entertaining and imaginative. In this book, Guttridge tackles some of those tricky subjects such as paganism, Satanism, and metaphysicians. While Nick Madrid does practice yoga, he does not believe all of that New Age mysticism stuff. He is not the typical person who believes that it is all nonsense, but he is not gullible either. Somehow, Nick manages to be both sarcastic about mysticism and open to the idea that he might not know everything.

A GHOST OF A CHANCE is the fifth book to feature Nick Madrid. It is not vital that these books are read in any order. While Nick and Bridget appear throughout all of them, there are few other continuing themes or characters. Events that occur in one book are not referred to in another. By allowing each book to remain independent from the others, Guttridge makes it easy for the reader to jump straight into the series with whichever book he or she can find.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, April 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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