Reviewed by Ashley Knibb
Keith Linder delivers part two to his previous book The Bothell Hell House and continues his personal account of poltergeist activity. This particularly personal insider perspective of Linder’s experiences has divided opinions and in doing so placed the ‘fact or faked’ debate firmly in relation to this case. I have to admit that reading The Bothell Hell House and its follow-up Attachments, there were certainly times when I felt pushed beyond my ‘boggle threshold.’ However, if the experiences Linder details were quite normal, then this book would not exist.
In order to provide some consistency with the review of The Bothell Hell House undertaken by Chris Jensen Romer; I would like to address the obvious question first; ‘should you read this book?’ A question Romer raised and perhaps all readers of book reviews expect to find an answer. My answer is yes – if you have an interest in poltergeist cases, psychical research or hauntings at all then Linder’s account is worth your attention. However, Attachments is a tough read.
Attachments continues Linder’s own poltergeist experiences as his time at the Bothell House comes to an end following the demise of his relationship with Tina. Leaving the house was always something that Linder indicated he was not keen on doing, especially as he would not like a family to experience the poltergeist activity. However, with Tina now gone the Bothell House was too much for him and although he loved the house, Linder decided to move to an apartment. Whilst Linder conveys at times that it was his hope that nothing would follow him from the Bothell House to his new apartment, it is my opinion that this is somewhat suggested as a given in this scenario. Although we must remember Linder is communicating this after the fact when indeed phenomena occurred in his apartment as well. Linder presents the reader with faulty appliances, pools of water and small entities he refers to as ‘minions.’
However, Attachments does not start at Linder’s new apartment. In fact, he begins by almost reviewing the investigations conducted by Steve Mera, Don Phillips, Nick Kyle (Scottish Society for Psychical Research) and Nicole Novelle – referred to as the UK and US teams. Mera and Phillips visited with Linder twice to investigate the case, bringing Kyle with them on the second occasion. This was actually something I thought was an excellent approach as it begins to provide us with a possibility of evidence based on multiple witness testimony. Testimony that I am sure those interested in exploring the case further could still obtain. Mera and Phillips have also written their own account, which I believe is in the public domain as there are links within the book.
Actually, this would be a good point to discuss the links within Linder’s book. For those that read The Bothell Hell House, Linder’s inclusion of various links to Internet resources providing video or audio ‘evidence’ will not be a surprise. Attachments follows this format delivering links amongst the text as you go. Personally, I was not a huge fan of this format, because whilst reading a physical copy of the book, I want to do just that – read the book. I would prefer detailed description of the audio or video with reference that could be picked up from the endnotes. That way Linder could have detailed these in chronological order with simpler links for the reader to follow. I quickly lost interest in grabbing my phone to tap in a link and review it in the middle of a chapter. However, this brings to mind an unfortunate misconception, which is that video, audio and photographs elements are definitive evidence of the paranormal. Whilst in my opinion they are highly subjective weak evidence, that may present the possibility of something interesting occurring, but should not be weighed singularly. In all fairness Linder does not hide this from the reader presenting his experiences openly and very personally indeed. However, let us not forget that probable witness testimony we could acquire regarding this case should we wish to investigate it further.
Linder focus on his own investigation of the phenomena in Attachments. A focus that is evident in the various methods he uses to capture certain phenomena and the detailed research he undertakes to seek out more regarding why he may be experiencing what he does. This includes the purchase of some expensive digital stethoscopes in order to make sense of the heart beat sounds that he believes his bed is making. I must admit that on reading this part of the book I was somewhat concerned that Linder may possibly be seeking oddity in everything around him and finding it. Once again challenging my ‘boggle threshold.’
That said, Linder does also venture off to research the location of the Bothell House in order to determine if the answers are to be found in its past. Again, I have to admit for me this does appear to follow the concepts presented by the popular feature film ‘Poltergeist;’ especially when he begins to discuss Native Americans. However, I can give the benefit of the doubt on this occasion as Linder is exploring the meaning of the symbols that appeared on the walls and ceiling of his home office. What is interesting is that he pushes this research to comprehend the substance used too, which he discovers to be Bone Black and Dipples Oil. Looking into those certainly suggests some interesting connections too. Is it possible that these have a relationship to the cause of Linder’s experiences? Perhaps, but it is difficult to say and still lacks a true why in my opinion.
In regards to this case, personally I believe it is the previous occupant of the Bothell House that possibly holds the greatest importance. Equally, we see Linder look into and although he may not draw similar conclusions as I do, he certainly recognises Rhonda’s importance in this story. Rhonda’s time in the house was by no means easy; dealing with rape, alcohol addiction, prescription drug addiction, the breakdown of her marriage and her child suffering from a serious illness. Is it then possible that Rhonda’s experiences could cause poltergeist activity for Linder to experience or even for herself? We must take into consideration that Linder previously introduced us to Rhonda in The Bothell Hell House as the previous tenant that also had experiences within the house. However, its upsetting to learn that Rhonda is no longer with us as she committed suicide. Rhonda’s story does add an interesting element to Linder’s poltergeist experiences, one which I think may hold greater possibility of cause than the history of the land.
Attachments is an interesting addition to Linder’s poltergeist experience, taking us beyond the house where the original phenomena occurred. As Linder himself expresses, whilst many think want to experience what he has – ghost hunters – the truth is they would not. In addition to the phenomena described across the two books there are also some very sad stories related to this case. Life stories, which should not go without recognition. That of the Native Americans, which Linder reminds us of through his research. Then Rhonda’s very sad story too; and of course, Linder’s own story too, his loss of the relationship with Tina and struggle to date again. Perhaps sometimes we forget the related life stories as we pursue the phenomena. As Romer expressed in his review of The Bothell Hell House; ‘there is a great deal to address with this case.’
Unlike many older poltergeist cases, many of those involved in this one are still alive and hopefully available to comment too. Equally as Linder still expresses that some activity is occurring, then surely there is opportunity to study here. Certainly, a chance to follow-up Colvin (2010) rapping analysis, and more could be tested in a live case. All of which would start by familiarising oneself with the Linder case through The Bothell Hell House, Attachments and the third book Linder promises.
Although Attachments was not an easy read, I did find the case quite fascinating. Linder is not a professional writer and tends to return to some points already discussed, including in The Bothell Hell House, which I personally felt he could have maintained the integrity of his account without doing. That said I equally respect Linder’s approach of attempting to give the reader everything they need to understand his experiences. Whilst I feel some that is presented as ‘paranormal’ or ‘geist’ activity may be due to confirmation bias and perhaps Linder’s own desire to attribute blame externally; there is certainly additional information supporting the possibility of some genuine phenomena occurring. Something which should spark a review of this case material beyond just the work of Linder. Only then can we truly determine if the poltergeist of Washington State case belongs with that of Enfield and Borley.
Colvin, B. G. (2010). The acoustic properties of unexplained rapping sounds. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 74, 65-93.