It's rare that I write a review about books I read. Mostly because like film, books are meant to illicit feelings and images to the reader that can be a deeply personal experience. This is NOT one of those books. Edwin Becker is as straight forward and to the point as it gets when it comes to his personal experience. Taking place in the early 70's, the Becker's haunting experience is honest, frightening and at times painful. This is not sensational. It's not filled with classic jump scares so often seen in horror movies. What makes this book compelling and a must read is it's pure reality. This really happened. From the beginning of this book I knew I was reading something different. Something unlike all the ghost accounts out there. This book does not suffer the same fate as a lot of well meaning books on this subject. Publishers like 'spice' and 'thrills' and at times authors are forced into a corner. Write a few 'embellished' events to keep readers attention or risk being turned down for publication. This book suffers from none of this.
Edwin Becker and his wife Marsha bought their first home. Young, naive and excited homeowners that they were, they totally ignored the strange and unusual events taking place every day. In the 1970's, as the author describes, the only image that people had for ghosts was the Hollywood one. Spectral ghouls, floating skeletons, moaning banshees, this was the view of the 'ghost' world. The Exorcist had not yet gone to print. Probably a good thing for the Beckers. As the entities began to make their presence more and more obvious, the Beckers and their tenants began a slow mental decline. As Mr. Becker uncovers more of the previous family's secrets,the pieces begin to fall into place. Their home was the scene of probably one of the first televised exorcisms by a local NBC station. The clip of the original broadcast is available on YouTube.
Compared to the plethora of ghostly TV shows and modern day paranormal research, this clip may seem tame. However, in it's simplicity it hides a dangerous fact. This being that most hauntings are not the sensationalized spectacles a new Hollywood makes them out to be. Any angry entity that is antagonized can act out. Unfortunately, Mr. Becker, do to his lack of any type of access to information (it just didn't exist) did all the wrong things. Any of us would back then.
So dear reader, before you go blasting into a haunted building with your EMF detectors and FLIRS this is a must read. Why? Because from 35 years of personal experience I can tell you, working with entities can be exceedingly dangerous. They are on a level that takes years of study to even begin to understand. If one does not have the proper training that 'harmless little boy' begging for help could be the demon you are not prepared to deal with. The sweet old man will maniacally change and attach himself to you because you unwittingly offered to 'help' him. Forget about 'exorcisms' for human souls, they will only work on demons. Unfortunately, the Beckers found this out firsthand. This was the compelling part of the book for me. You see, Mr. Becker carefully and painstakingly accounts what he learns about ghosts. His personal discoveries about human entities are spot on and accurate. I'm sure he had no idea they were, he was just chronicling his personal experiences. The final outcome is a good one, however it leaves the reader with more questions then answers. This is not the authors fault. The Beckers only wanted closure and for the most part, they received it. Some of their tenants, unfortunately, were not so lucky.
In closing, I cannot stress reading this chronicle enough. In it's simplicity, away from the hype and fervor of what we see on TV, this is a crystal clear picture of a classic haunting. It is my sincere wish that what you take away from this book is the reality that ghosts are people. People. Not sideshow freaks made to do tricks or knockings or getting them to play pianos in the middle of the night. Chasing them, using Ouija boards etc. only serves to confuse and disturb them or worse, make them frustrated and angry. Another lesson the unknowing tenants of the Beckers discovered.
This reader sincerely hopes that Edwin Becker will write a follow up to this fascinating and insightful book.