Book: Haunts of San Jose by David Lee

Yesterday I was at Borders at Oakridge Mall, in San Jose, and under the “local interest” section found a book written in 2008 by David Lee on local haunts in Santa Clara County.  I recall being phoned a year or two ago by someone putting together a book along these lines and wish I could remember if it was the same person – I suspect so but am not positive.

“Haunts of San Jose” is a paperback book and runs just about $15.  Although it’s titled,”Haunts of San Jose”, the area covered is more extensive than that, including places in Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Felton and others.

This is the first book I’ve seen that’s focused on ghost stories in the San Jose area in particular. One of the best things about the book is the collection of photographs – clearly this author spent some time visiting sites personally and not just going off of hearsay. It is well organized too, by either geographical area or topic (as in “haunted schools”).  At under 200 pages, the book is a very manageable length, too.

While “Haunts of San Jose” has good breadth, it does not have a lot of depth and the writing itself is poorly done (stylistically) – this is one book that should have had a co-author to make it a more enjoyable read.  Many stories are glossed over and some of the more interesting aspects of some places are not mentioned at all.  For example, Trials Pub in San Jose has a fascinating history (there’s a holding cell or two in the basement that used to be called into use when the jail was at overflow levels, and executions happened behind the building). 

Several haunted spots were not mentioned at all, such as Bella Saratoga, formerly the site of the Saratoga News, which is very well known locally as a haunted place. Another location said to be haunted is the Mountain Winery – no mention of this either.  At the same time, though, the book sleuthed out a few places that I did not know about – and I appreciated the new (to me) info. 

On the whole, Haunts of San Jose is a good, general overview of haunted places in and close to San Jose, and I would suggest that local ghosthunters get a copy and read it as it is a very good starting point for doing more exploration on your own.

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