That Which Remains: A Novel of Ghosts and Murder (Hometown Ghosts and Legends Book 1) by Terry Daly Karl

Reviewed by Ray Palen

That Which RemainsSet in the upper Western New York State town of Akron, located outside of Buffalo, is the Akron Hotel. This is the location for this outstanding, atmospheric story. To refer to THAT WHICH REMAINS a horror, supernatural or mystery tale would not be enough of a description. This novel contains all of those elements and more.

Author Terry Daly Karl is a resident of Akron and clearly knows the territory. She imbues her story with rich detail while at the same time using a modern-day time-frame to tell a tale that contains the rich elements that have made up classic ghost stories for centuries. THAT WHICH REMAINS includes ghost hunting, séances and a murder mystery which includes an other-worldly character as a potential suspect.

The novel opens with an employee of the Akron Hotel, Jenny Shenandoah, cursing as she has to travel to the upper floors of the Hotel which she firmly believes to be haunted. She believes she sees a ghost and runs to the Hotel Manager Steve and bartender Joe for protection. When the small team investigates things further on the 3rd floor they do not find a ghost. Instead they find the corpse of one of their missing employees, Wendy Kulbrick.

Senior Investigator, Sergeant Mike O’Brien is called in. He leads a team of three that begin to interview the employees of the Akron Hotel while trying to find out why Wendy Kulbrick died. O’Brien scoffs at any supernatural possibilities and believes it had to be a person that took Kubrick’s life by bashing her over the head with a blunt object. The interviews don’t provide the investigators with much more than conjecture. One lead indicates that Wendy may have been having an affair with Joe the bartender. Jenny keeps going back to the apparition she saw prior to the body being found. It was in the form of a person that left footprints of blood on the ground.

With the heavy belief by many at the Hotel that it was indeed haunted, O’Brien decides it is time for a different type of expert to be called in. Rae Dembrowsky has a reputation as a reliable medium known for conducting séances. A séance is scheduled for the Akron Hotel that will include Rae, her husband Mark, a few Hotel employees and Mike O’Brien. Much to everyone’s surprise, it is O’Brien who is used as a host for a channeling spirit as he is inhabited by an unknown entity that begins shouting: “You can’t have it, it’s MINE!”

This experience changes everything and also places the novel firmly into classic ghost story/supernatural realm with a touch of murder mystery. As O’Brien continues his investigation, which includes reflection as to why he wanted to be a part of the séance, we are introduced to more characters and potential motives into the murder. It’s no secret that the Sheriff’s, Department had been tracking down former hotel employee Gil Herbert, who has left a string of jobs each time following some sort of theft. Herbert is linked to Wendy and that at least gives some motive for the murder but no further indication as to who the killer may have been.

A local historian meets with O’Brien and Rae to discuss the famed piece of art allegedly housed within the confines of the Akron Hotel’s upper floors and it has historical links that includes a famous ex-United States President. We also get some more details as to who the ghost — or ghosts — may be that are haunting the hotel and possibly protecting the hidden treasure. I won’t reveal any more spoilers here and merely can attest that Terry Daly Karl succeeds on every level with THAT WHICH REMAINS turning this novel into essential reading during the Halloween season.

Rating: Five (5) Stars (Out of Five)