Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aaron’s Wait by Dorien Grey

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Publisher: Zumaya Boundless

Aaron’s Wait is the second book in the Elliott Smith Mystery series. The main character, Elliott, is one of the dullest people on the planet – he’s got loads of money, good looks, a caring boyfriend, a hobby of restoring old apartment houses – yet he is placed in an interesting situation, he is on a first name basis with a ghost, John. Together, Elliott and John attempt to solve a mystery involving yet another ghost who is haunting the building that Elliott is renovating. This proves rather difficult because the other ghost, Aaron, doesn’t realize he’s dead and can’t really communicate effectively with either Elliott or John. Readers who enjoyed the first Elliott Smith mystery, His Name Is John, should feel a sense of déjà vu about now. At times I felt that the elements in the two stories were a bit too similar.

What Elliott and John discover, is that Aaron has been dead for four years, and during that time he has been waiting for the return of his lover, Bill, who is also dead. In order to set Aaron free from waiting for eternity, Elliott and John must solve the mystery of how Aaron’s lover died, so that Aaron can finally move on, or rest in peace, or whatever it is that spirits do.

As with most of the Dorien Grey books I’ve read, this one is not to be rushed. The level of rich detail in the life of Elliott Smith makes for slow, sometimes glacial, pacing, yet it is seldom a problem because the author’s voice keeps the story absorbing. Fans of Dorien Grey will no doubt enjoy these well-written scenes and lush descriptions. Most of the characters are likable and feel real. The author skillfully keeps the reader guessing until the last puzzle piece falls into place.

There were two issues that made me not enjoy this story as much as the first Elliott Smith mystery. The first had to do with caring about what happens to a ghost that has been dead for four years. I simply failed to care about his situation, having been dead for that long a time. Part of that not caring came because the reader never really has direct contact with Aaron, but always experiences him through the words of John.

My second issue is a larger drawback. Of the two main characters, Elliott and John, one is a ghost. He has no physical form. Therefore, the reader can’t visualize him and he performs no physical actions. He’s simply a voice in Elliott’s head. Because of that, he comes off as one-dimensional. His only role seems to be a go-between for Elliott and Aaron. Because of this, Aaron has to carry the story, which he mostly does, but I was left wanting more. I feel that if the author continues writing stories with this paranormal duo, he needs to find a way to give John more depth, give him a much larger role to play, and give him the ability to affect physical events.

My two concerns did not stop me from enjoying this read, and I feel that anyone who loves mysteries will enjoy this story as well. I can recommend this story without hesitation.

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