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Book(ish) Review: “Hammer & Nails” by Ian Gordon

It’s time for another review… think of it as an early Christmas present…

About the Book:

Join podcaster, Diane Woodrow, in conversation with the renowned Paranormal Investigator, Peter Van Melsen, as the pair discuss a strange case the latter was involved with, known as the Hammerton Horror. Over 6 episodes, you’ll hear the recording of Woodrow’s podcast in the quiet setting of Rosedale Chapel, interspersed with dramatic cutaways, designed to provide an audible glimpse of key events as they transpired.

HorrorBabble, YouTube

Book Title: Hammer & Nails

Author(s): Ian Gordon

Series (if applicable): Van Melsen, #7

As it’s nearing Christmas, I’ve been in the mood for some spooky tales. Having just devoured “The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories”, I turned to YouTube to see what else was out there. I managed to find a couple more Victorian ghostie delights and on my travels returned to a regular YouTube haunt of mine: HorrorBabble. The folks at HorrorBabble create audio versions of classic horror stories, as well as completely original work. The Peter Van Melsen tales are great examples of some of those original pieces (and they are absolutely superb!).

I’d listened to most of the Peter Van Melsen stories previously, but yesterday I noticed two I hadn’t sampled yet. “Hammer & Nails” being one! So, it seemed only right that I jumped straight in. 


Our main character is the classy, and shockingly observant and intelligent, Peter Van Melsen. He’s everything you want your Paranormal Investigator to be. He’s slightly eccentric and obsessed with tea 🫖… and I relate to this SO MUCH. Okay, so I’m no investigator (paranormal or otherwise), but I do enjoy several cups of tea per day… and I’m a tad eccentric (if we’re being polite).

Van Melsen is joined by Diane Woodrow, host of the Woodrow Show podcast. She grounds us in reality and it feels like we’re learning about Van Melsen’s adventures with her.

Also, special shout out to the villain of this piece… I will say little else about them due to possible spoilers, but they were utterly delightful!


This is an audiobook/audio drama/‘I don’t know what to call it’ that’s told through interview/podcast episodes (and was originally released as a podcast). In this, we hear about Van Melsen’s Hammerton Horror case that took place on a remote estate in Yorkshire. The story features all kinds of things that can chill the blood, such as Wonder Moths (or is it a ‘wandermoth’?), a possible vampire, folks coming back from the dead, and a so-called sorcerer.

As the podcast episodes progress, we find out how Van Melsen worked the case and we move ever closer to finding out more about the villain and solving the killings/disappearances.


The episodic nature lends itself well, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Periods of tension and (somewhat) normality were balanced wonderfully, and the interview and dramatic scenes worked well together. 

Other thoughts:

When listening to audiobooks, I have the tendency to play them at an increased speed, but I never do that with HorrorBabble stuff. For one thing, it’s too good and I want it to last as long as possible and, for another, there’s something very soothing about it, especially Ian Gordon‘s voice.

Speaking of which, the performances here were absolutely spot on. This stopped being an audiobook for me pretty early on and soon became a true paranormal crime podcast. I was hooked! Also, listen out for the Laughing Man’s laugh… It’s SO CREEPY!

I’m a big fan of the descriptions used in “Hammer & Nails”. They make my imagination go all tingly and happy. Here’s a really cool example (and it happens early on, so I’m not giving anything away!):

“The foot appeared to have been yanked off. The flesh that remained had a certain stretched out look. Imagine, if you will, a thick rubber band stretched to the limit. Just like that, it was.”

said by Peter Van Melsen in “Hammer & Nails” by Ian Gordon

While I absolutely love the audio versions of these stories, I think it would be great if all the Peter Van Melsen cases could be collected together in a book… perhaps in a nice hardback that I could treasure forever.

“Hammer & Nails” is a fantastic tale and, even though it’s the seventh Van Melsen case, I think it would provide the perfect intro to my favourite paranormal investigator for those who have yet to become acquainted with him. So, go listen to it. You know you want to!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with one more quote… it’s something to think about…

“That which fascinates usually has a tendency to bite too.”

said by Peter Van Melsen in “Hammer & Nails” by Ian Gordon

Here’s the YouTube video… Grab a cup of tea and have a listen!

Give it some stars:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Want to visit the author? Here’s a good place to start…

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