Chad Lewis knows scary when he sees it, and as a paranormal investigator, he's seen plenty of it.

The author of a dozen books, including 2005's "The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations" and the recently published "Haunted St. Paul," Lewis is in his element this time of year. After all, Halloween is the Super Bowl of ghostbusting.

But that doesn't mean that he wants to scare people out of their wits. While he finds it fascinating to explore reports of ghosts, he doesn't want to tell people what they should believe. "I let them decide for themselves," he said.

Lewis believes, and he knows a lot of other people who do, too.

"In the 15 years I've been doing this, I've talked to too many credible and rational people" who have reported ghost sightings, he said.

When he started assembling his guides to haunted spots, he ran the information past the owners of the locations to make sure they didn't object to being included on a list that might draw snoopy members of the public.

Places like Landmark Center in St. Paul "didn't care because they figured no one was going to read my book, anyway. Now they like it because it attracts curious people and they see that as a good way to teach the people about history. Whether you're there to learn about the gangsters or the ghosts, you're there."

He asks his readers to keep an open mind when it comes to exploring his ghost stories. If you don't learn anything about ghosts, you could end up learning something about yourself.

"You might discover that you're a little stranger than you thought you were," he said.

Here are his five top haunted places in the Twin Cities:

Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul: The vengeful spirit of a woman put to death continues to wander her final (un)resting place.

Landmark Center in St. Paul: Visitors to this historic site report that it is plagued by the ghost of an old gangster who still walks the building and makes himself known during weddings.

First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis: Visitors to this landmark building report seeing the ghost of a young woman who likes to frequent the women's bathroom.

Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul: Haunted by several victims of a card game gone awry. Others see the ghostly image off an old flapper girl roaming the caves.

Forepaugh's restaurant in St. Paul: The spirit of Joseph Forepaugh roams his former residence along with his former mistress, Molly, who met her fate in the home.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392