Characteristically weird ghost fantasy set in Los Angeles, from the author of Last Call (1992), etc. Ghosts, it seems, are just the moronic shells of the dead; fascinated by coins, palindromes, and chalk-drawn circles, and sometimes substantial enough to eat bottle caps, they're easily trapped by acquisitive ghost-sensitives, who snort them to augment their own lives. Young Kootie Parganas, the son of psychically gifted but inattentive parents, decides to run away from home. But first he must smash the plaster bust of Dante that his parents seem to venerate. The bust contains a tiny glass bottle, and, sniffing the contents, Kootie finds he's inhaled the still sensible and intelligent ghost of Thomas Alva Edison! But then Kootie must flee for his life from a ruthless one-armed ghost-hunter. Kootie and ``Al'' soon strike up a partnership, and Al shows Kootie ways to throw the one-armed man off the scent. Elsewhere, electrical engineer Pete Sullivan, pursued by ghost-sniffer Loretta deLarava, conceals himself behind Houdini's ``mask''; psychiatrist Angelica Elizalde, having in a bungled sÇance killed a patient by accident, seeks the ghost's forgiveness; and ex-child actor Nicholas Bradshaw's ghost continues to reanimate his own corpse. Powers's highly original and often amusing scenario, painstakingly researched, lacks internal logic; and with the living people almost as inanely obsessed as the dead, it's hard to care what happens to either.
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