Beer and Spirits: A Guide to Haunted Pubs in the Black Country and Surrounding Area, by David Taylor and Andrew Homer
Amberley have published another volume in their useful series of gazetteers, this one linking those two natural bedfellows, paranormal research and pubs. David Taylor is the founder of the West Midlands group Parasearch, and has a wealth of practical experience. Andrew Homer is joint national investigations coordinator for the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena and managing editor of its magazine Anomaly. They are both good communicators and in this book they look at over sixty pubs in the Black Country, providing a readable mix of folklore, archival research and recent investigations.
.An introduction gives a potted outline of the evolution of the pub and theories of ghosts, and is followed by a guide to haunted pubs in the area. These are arranged alphabetically irrespective of location, which is fine when reading straight through, but for field reference a geographical index would have helped.
The authors end with two non-pub appendices, one on local sightings of Spring-Heeled Jack, the other an intriguing phantom hitchhiker case from 2000. The whole is well illustrated and attractively presented, and will be of interest to residents and tourists alike. The term Black Country may not be the greatest marketing name, but Taylor and Homer have provided ample justification, if one were needed, to visit this part of the country and sample its attractions, both earthly and otherwise.