Book Reviews

His Name is John (Elliott Smith 1) by Dorien Grey at Zumaya Boundless

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Paranormal / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 26-June-2013

Book Blurb

Elliott Smith never considered himself to be anything special, if you didn't count having wealthy parents, whom he largely ignores. His profession is buying, restoring and reselling small apartment buildings around Chicago. Gay and contentedly single at 38, he has, in addition to his globetrotting parents, a devoted sister, a police detective brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew. Everything in his life is going along perfectly fine until he wakes in the hospital after being hit by a car aware of being watched by someone who isn't there. Despite being sure what happens next can be attributed to his injuries from the accident, Elliott is reluctantly, inexorably, drawn into the search to find a name for the unidentified murdered man who died next to him in the Emergency Room--and who killed him. His investigation takes him on a trail that leads from photographs to motor homes, a body hidden behind a wall for more than sixty years, old neighbors and old enemies, and a nun with a secret she does not know she holds. Along the way, Elliott also finds himself on the threshold of a new relationship with potential he never would have imagined.

Elliott invites you to join him on his search in this first book of a new series by popular mystery author Dorien Grey, whose Dick Hardesty mystery series has included four finalists for a Lambda Literary Award.

Book Review

As disconcerting as is would be to get hit by a car, end up in the hospital with a head injury and broken arm, Elliott Smith, from Dorien Grey's book 'His Name is John', has a very unique complication—he hears a voice in his sleep who says his name is John. John can't remember anything else which is disconcerting for both Elliot and John, since he has no idea how to help him. Not only does Elliott doubt his own sanity, he also questions who John is and where he came from. Other than knowing he's the man who died beside him in the Emergency Room, Elliot is at a loss as to how, or even if, he can honor John's request of finding his murderer.

Elliott is quite talented in renovations of old buildings. For him, it's more of an artistic expression than a job. He takes great pride in his work. His wealthy, stuffy parents hate his choice. They think it is below him. Fortunately, his sister and her family are wonderfully down-to-earth and loving which helps to balance his life. Elliott seems distant at first, but it's partly due to the fact that he was raised so formally, making it difficult for him to relax and be himself. He's afraid to let go and show his feelings because he doesn't want to be hurt; it's easier to seem aloof. This more or less works for him until he meets the wonderful and understanding Steve who steals his heart before Elliott even realizes it. It's interesting to see Elliott change as he begins to bond with Steve. Love will do that to a person; make us open up to the world and to each other. Even though they are slowly but surely getting closer, they are still very cautious about assuming anything.

When John passes through to the spirit world, he becomes a new being. In a sense, he is born again like a baby, but he does retain some residual memories from his former life. As he learns more, John is able to recognize people, places, events, and feelings that he's experienced. I have to admire Elliott for his tenacity, not only for tracking down clues for John's murder investigation, but also for sticking with John through his frustrating adjustment from a corporeal to a non-corporeal being. It was interesting to see how that very unusual relationship develops as John's awareness expands and as Elliott gets better at listening.

The mystery is written in a formal style which took a bit of getting used to, but Mr. Grey has such a wonderful grasp of words making his narrations and descriptions well worth the effort. His vivid depictions of the buildings Elliott is renovating, help too, not only imagine the style and grace of each, but also help to portray why Elliott loves them so much. His characters, especially Elliot and John, and their connection lays the groundwork for their interactions later in the story. Also, in any new series, the first book is often the wordiest since the environment and all the characters have to be portrayed along with the plot. 'His Name is John' is an interesting mystery with fascinating paranormal elements and unexpected surprises. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants a story they have to digest a little more than others, one that's different in the fact that one of the main characters is otherworldly, and is full of adventure and intrigue. Thank you, Mr. Grey, for introducing us to Elliott and John's world.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Zumaya Boundless for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 212 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 20-May-2008
Price $6.99 ebook
Buy Link