Saturday, August 3, 2013
His Name Is John – Audio Version – by Dorien Grey – Narration by Jim Hickey
Review by Jon Michaelsen
In His Name Is John, prolific author Dorien Grey has achieved the rarity few writers enjoy, which is developing a solid first novel in another series daringly different than Grey’s wildly popular Dick Hardesty private investor mysteries.
Once again, Grey has created a colorful cast of characters we love and despise, beginning with the introduction of a middle-age Elliott Smith, a rather mild-mannered man whose vocation is real estate development in the Chicago area. Elliott and his rather motherly sister are siblings of wealthy parents who appear more interested in traveling the world and keeping up appearances than in spending time with their children and grandchildren. Although he is from wealth and privilege, Elliott has achieved wealth of his own by investing in historical, architecturally significant buildings to rehab and sell for profit. A great backstory that provides a solid foundation for the novel that quickly bursts to the forefront when a decades old skeleton is discovered behind a brick wall in the basement of Elliott’s latest project.
But, I am getting ahead of myself as the novel begins with Elliott waking up in the ER with a serious head injury…and quickly learns he is not alone. Another man in emergency the same time as Elliott has died and his spirit (which Elliott cannot see) butknows is there has locked onto Elliott for reasons unknown. Once on the mend, Elliott feels a sense of obligation to help the “spirit”, who knows only that his name is “John”, learn who the man was and how he had died.
Dorien Grey has written an extraordinarily inventive, highly imaginative mystery within a mystery, complete with well-developed characters and tightly plotted prose. The incredible talent of narrator, Jim Hickey, makes this already terrific novel an even more enjoyable listen. Those listening to the audio version of His Name Is John will quickly slip into a comfortable zone hearing Hickey’s words, the perfect choice of narrator for this novel, not to mention lending the right voice to Elliott Smith’s character.
I am looking forward to reading more Elliott Smith mysteries and hope Grey continues with Jim Hickey as narrator for future audio releases.