Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews The Haunting of the Gemini: A True Story of New York’s Zodiac Murders (Berkley, $9.99) by Jackie Barrett.
Published last Tuesday, The Haunting of the Gemini is the author’s second book for Berkley, following The Devil I Know: My Haunting Journey with Ronnie DeFeo and the True Story of the Amityville Murders (2012). Barrett is an internationally renowned psychic medium who has a client list that includes celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, and business leaders; her reputation has earned her an honorary captain’s badge from the New York Police Department as well as partnerships with crime fighting units around the world. A leading expert on occult crimes, she has been featured on A&E, BIO., WE, Lifetime, E!, and the Travel Channel.
As a conduit for the deceased, Jackie Barrett is no stranger to communication from the other side. Given her unique and masterfully controlled gift, then, it comes as a surprise when Barrett is inhabited by the tortured soul of murder victim Patricia Fonti, who was found dead after having been shot and stabbed more than one hundred times in Brooklyn’s Highland Park neighborhood in the summer of 1992. Though nearly twenty years have passed since the killing and Fonti’s first intrusion, Barrett soon discovers the link between victim and killer, Heriberto “Eddie” Seda—perhaps better known as New York’s infamous Zodiac Killer.
Fonti, a restless, schizophrenic soul, compels Barrett to relive the indignities of her life and death as she searches for liberation from a limbo-like state. Meanwhile, this bid for freedom is challenged by Seda, who, though physically incarcerated, is able to move freely in the spirit realm, resulting in a game of cat-and-mouse that is played out using Barrett’s mind and body as the playground. Admittedly an eye-raising scenario, it’s also one that is supported by letters, drawings, and recorded telephone conversations between Barrett and Seda, who is convinced that the psychic medium represents his other half—and that, together, they make up that astrological sign of the twins: the Gemini.
Though very much the story of Fonti’s crusade for redemption, it is also the story of her killer—and of Barrett herself, who must reckon with her own past even as she struggles for survival in the present. The book is largely told in dream-like passages, which find Barrett at her most vulnerable (her body is often commandeered during the night only to appear bloodied and battered upon waking); this conceit, while vividly illustrating a nightmarish landscape, also allows for an exploration of the potential that exists within the human mind during altered states of consciousness. Fittingly, Barrett’s climactic jailhouse showdown with Seda transcends this world into the next, with the prison walls merely serving as confines for the body while the true battle of good versus evil plays out in the battlefield of the mind.
The Haunting of the Gemini is a unique and captivating work that will challenge readers to look beyond what they know. By giving voice to forgotten souls, and by confronting the darker side of humanity, Jackie Barrett empowers us to consider something greater than a world colored only in black and white. That she captures the hope that can survive when faced with life’s hauntings and horrors is a testament to her abilities, both as a medium and a storyteller. Ultimately, hers is the tale of a woman who traveled to hell and back and lived to tell …