The Ghost-Breaker

I’m a big damn fan of occult detective fiction in all of its myriad forms. I love reading about them–from Morris Klaw, the Dream Detective to Jules de Grandin–and, unsurprisingly, I love writing about them. In fact, roughly a third of the entirety of the stories I’ve written, published or otherwise, have featured an occult detective of one sort or another.

One of the more enduring of these characters was John Bass, the Jackapo County Ghost-Breaker. Bass has had a grand total of twelve appearances in print, with three of those being reprints and two appearing in my now out-of-print collection of Jackapo County stories, Bury Me Deep & Other Folk Songs.

Bass, a veteran of WWI and the Spanish-American War, came home from the Continent with a French wife and a plan to be a farmer in his home county of Jackapo, South Carolina. Unfortunately, his land turned sour and his wife died of the Influenza and that left Bass a hard and bitter old man whose only skills were in the laying and breaking of spirits, curses and hexes. Which he then did, and has done well for ten stories thus far, not counting reprints. In no particular order, chronological or otherwise:

“Down in the Dark”

Bass attempts to lay to rest the murderous ghost of a woman’s abusive husband.

  • 2006 Walking Bones issue 1
  • 2007 RAGEMachine issue 4 (RAGEMachine Books)
  • 2007 Bury Me Deep & Other Southern Folk Songs (Pulpwork Press)

“The Weeping House”

Bass battles the spectre of a brutal sorcerer in order to free the souls of those he’s enslaved. 

“Wicked Wood”

Bass faces down a daemon-haunted tree and the ghost of a witch-man’s familiar.

“Bury Me Deep”

Bass comes face-to-face with a homicidal plat-eye in a county work-camp.

  • 2007 Damned in Dixie (Tenoka Books)
  • 2007 Bury Me Deep & Other Southern Folk Songs (Pulpwork Press)

“The Hog-Pen”

Bass tangles with a ghostly herd of swine. 

  • 2007 Bury Me Deep & Other Southern Folk Songs (Pulpwork Press)

“The Screaming Place”

Bass races to save a child from the clutches of a nightmarish forest spirit.

  • 2007 Bury Me Deep & Other Southern Folk Songs (Pulpwork Press)

“River Baby Weeps”

Bass confronts a nasty spectre out for vengeance on a group of back-country vigilantes.

“Glory Hand”

An old acquaintance of Bass’ attempts to force him to lead the way to an ancient treasure with unpleasant results.

“Prodigal Spirits”

Bass eases a mother’s grief by laying out a dumb supper for some long-awaited guests.

“Rattlesnake Eyes”

Bass returns to the Appalachians to tangle with a stubborn corpse and unquiet spirits.

Hopefully there’ll be more John Bass stories to come, because damn if I don’t enjoy writing about the old man.