The best books about spooky places, spooky minds, and old soldiers who never give up

Joe Talon Author Of Counting Crows: One For Murder
By Joe Talon

Who am I?

I’ve written about war for years. To be honest, it all began in school when we studied the terrible events of The Great War. Hearing the hearts shatter of men on the frontline never left me. I wanted to understand. I needed to understand. PTSD is something I’m familiar with, even if I’ve never been on the front line in battle. I’m also obsessed with myths, legends, ghost stories, and mysteries. My Lorne Turner series combines my passions and the books shine a light, in fiction, on what happens to old soldiers when they come home.

I wrote...

Counting Crows: One For Murder

By Joe Talon,

Book cover of Counting Crows: One For Murder

What is my book about?

The moor is darkening. Lorne Turner feels it in his bones. His instincts, honed by years on the battlefields of the desert, scream in warning. Or is it the monster in his head? When Detective Inspector Tony Shaw tells him the obvious occult symbols on a dead man are nothing more than faked staging, Lorne knows his instincts are right, and the police are wrong. There is darkness and it’s spreading. An ancient spirit line is awoken. Its pain seeping down from Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, to the ancient woodland church of Culbone on the coast. Its whispering dead are seeking justice.

The books I picked & why

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The Wine of Angels

By Phil Rickman,

Book cover of The Wine of Angels

Why this book?

This is where it all began. When I read this, I thought, I want to write a book like this one day. This long-running series is carefully crafted to walk the line between the real world and what might be out there, beyond the veil. They are cosy thrillers at their heart, I suppose, but the supernatural element adds a layer of spooky that darkens them, makes them more savage. The characters are wonderful, they can infuriate you at times, but they do not bore you. The locations, the weather, the buildings, they all play a part. These are very good British spooky thrillers.

Among You: The Extraordinary True Story of a Soldier Broken By War

By Jake Wood,

Book cover of Among You: The Extraordinary True Story of a Soldier Broken By War

Why this book?

This is a story that deals with old soldiers who never give up. It’s the story of Jake surviving Afghanistan as a serving soldier. I write about soldiers with PTSD, so it’s important I study the area, and it can be tough. Really tough. Heartbreaking to read about the effects of war on the mind of a soldier. I’ve read several, but this one really knocked me for six. It’s an educated, intelligent narrative about a young life full of honour, duty, passion, and hope. Then he goes to war. If we are ever to understand why war is so terrible, then we need to listen to those on the front line. Highly recommended for those brave enough.

Hekla's Children

By James Brogden,

Book cover of Hekla's Children

Why this book?

Back to fiction and spooky places. This weaves history, myth, and reality together until you don’t know which way is up. Beautifully written and researched, it will transport you into the world just beyond ours and it has a level of darkness a horror fan will enjoy. I’d say it’s more of a supernatural thriller, but it twists into horror at times. I love this because it once more weaves the real with the mythological, using British traditions to capture your imagination and transport you to new realities.


By Michelle Paver,

Book cover of Wakenhyrst

Why this book?

Another spooky one, but this is more historical. It’s unusual because the protagonist is a child for a huge portion of the book, but you never feel like that’s a problem. It adds to the supernatural element beautifully. It’s an odd story, one of those where you are not quite sure if it’s supernatural or the characters are slowly going mad. Superstition, murder, conspiracy, it’s all there in a potent mix. And the ending is brilliant, it brings everything together with real skill.

Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows

By Jason Fox,

Book cover of Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows

Why this book?

Another story about a mind broken by war. Jason Fox is former Special Forces, and it shows. Exploring the effects of war on the mind of a soldier who is trained to abhor weakness in all its forms is deeply moving. Also, reading about man’s life descending into chaos when it’s been so ordered is tough. The effect on family and friends, work colleagues. Again, not an easy read, because this is real life folks, but well worth the effort. It’s also very interesting to read about the conflicts from a warrior’s point of view.

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