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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong series to be enjoyed by both boys and girls, February 3, 2012
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KidsReads (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
Zack, the boy who reluctantly communicates with ghosts, is back for his fourth adventure in this humorous yet page-turning series by award-winning author Chris Grabenstein. Zack is not looking forward to Halloween --- with good reason.

Everyone knows that the veil between the dead and the living is very thin on that day, and he's well aware he'll be seeing a lot of ghosts. But he doesn't realize that the 12 notorious Icklebys buried in the local cemetery have a grudge against his family. And they are ready to find him to settle the score.

In THE SMOKY CORRIDOR, Zack learned that his father used to have his unusual gift when he was younger, too. He knows that the gift disappeared when his father was 13, after his aunts took him to a local herbology store for a certain milkshake. Zack's father has invited the three aunts to pay them a visit. He doesn't mind seeing them; it's the visiting ghosts who are becoming upsetting, including the one of his deceased mother, who was not kind to him while he was alive. He is also seeing his Grandpa Jim, who is warning him of danger coming.

Zack and his friends realize that ghosts are different on Halloween, as the first Ickleby is able to physically attack him in the hardware store. Usually ghosts just pass through people, but this one can strike out and damage entire aisles of the store. Zack asks his mysterious great aunts for help, and sees them freeze and disperse the ghost. They vow to take down the entire Ickleby family of ghosts, many of whom were murderers and thieves in life.

The last time the three sisters tangled with the Icklebys, they trapped them in a heart puzzle and sealed them in a crypt. But Zack's friend Malik released the puzzle by accident, and it ends up in the hands of a local man who is a descendant of the Icklebys.

The leader, Barnabas, was reputed to be a good man in life, but through research, Zack and his beloved stepmother, Judy, begin to suspect he was Jack the Lantern, a horse-riding marauder who snatched children for ransom or worse. Barnabas takes over the local man, Norman, and starts him on a crime spree. No one in the town knows who is behind this except Zack and his friends and family. They do not know if they have enough skills to stop the murdering ghost in his new body, but Zack has not shied away from danger yet.

Chris Grabenstein fills his characters with plenty of humor and realistic situations, even among the ghosts and mysteries. Zack is believable as he fights demons --- living and post-living --- and readers will be drawn in to find out what happens. This is a strong series to be enjoyed by both boys and girls, as well as adults.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Halloween Mystery, October 24, 2011
Halloween is approaching, and the most sinister residents buried at Haddam Hill Cemetery are stirring with excitement.

The Icklebys were notorious for producing generations of the worst kinds of criminals when they were alive, and now they are on the verge of being able to commit the most horrific crimes ever. The only person who will be able to stop them is Zack. Even newly armed with his three great aunts' witch powers and his two best friends, Malik and Azalea, Zack is facing an increasingly difficult task because the only way to exterminate the evil spirits is out of his reach. Will Zack be able to save more innocent lives from the villians' killing sprees and most importantly, his own life?

In this fourth installment of the Haunted Mystery series, Chris Grabenstein once again delighted his fans with unforgettable characters, twisted plots and unconventional humor. The highly imaginative world of ghosts with its many rules and regulations are always fun for the readers to discover and be amazed by, and Grabenstein's ability to implement the rules to achieve unpredictable outcomes has made the book especially enjoyable. Just as the previous three books, "The Black Heart Crypt" is a page-turner, a must-read for those who love ghosts, mystery and action-packed adventure stories. And what sets this book apart from the others in the series is that, it will become a modern Halloween classic like "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, June 16, 2014
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This review is from: The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery (Paperback)
Well-written, suspenseful, fast-paced. Great read for middle graders or those who love a good, creepy read. Looking forward to more in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, September 14, 2014
By 
David Tones (Bloomington, IL, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery (Paperback)
nice book
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The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery
The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery by Chris Grabenstein (Paperback - August 28, 2012)
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