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His Name is John
An Elliott Smith Mystery #1

Dorien Grey

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Zumaya Publications LLC

Published : 2008

Copyright : Dorien Grey 2008

ISBN-10 : PB 1-934841-04-8
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-934841-04-4

Publisher's Write-Up

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 neighbours 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.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (310112) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Rating 9/10
His Name is John - An Elliott Smith Mystery is another fine example of the fertile talent of writer Dorien Grey. I have long read, reviewed and enjoyed Grey’s writing. Grey’s PI Dick Hardesty novels packed with an abundance of charismatic players are good reading for those who enjoy succinct PI novels crafted in resolute, hard hitting style by a master novelist.

His Name Is John - An Elliott Smith Mystery is the introduction offering bringing readers a fresh, innovative mystery series written by Dorien Grey. In this latest series, the reader meets Chicago real estate developer Elliott Smith who almost immediately finds himself entangled in the investigation surrounding the slaying of one John (Doe).

Waking up with a serious headache in addition to an aching shoulder, Elliot Smith wasn’t positive just where he was. He came to recognize he was in a hospital room, although, he had no perception just how he got there.

It doesn’t take long before Elliot believes he must be going mad – someone, who is not there, is seated in the chair at the side of his bed. Not only that, Elliot hears a voice in his head. Only practical explanation he can come up with; is that it must be a consequence of the brain injury he has suffered.

Even as Elliot knows he is entirely rational; Elliot continues to hear the thought/voice. The voice is that of a baffled fellow branded as a John Doe who has died on the gurney next to Elliot in the Emergency Room. It seems that John hasn’t quite understood that he is dead. His mournful statement to Elliot "Will we ever find me?" motivates Elliot into action.

John, a man with whom Elliot makes an unexpected connection as they briefly share a hospital room before John dies is a bit of an enigma. It doesn’t take long before Elliott is driven to ascertain John's true identity and establish the killer. His motivations run a gamut of reasons that Elliott and his friends do not at first understand.

Grey’s narrative is boosted with the introduction of Elliot’s sister Cessy. As always Writer Grey fashions an engaging grouping of recurring secondary characters in addition to the well detailed main characters in addition to the miscellaneous mixture of minor and not so minor players who materialize and often disappear after one or two books.

Elliott Smith actually had never thought himself to be anything particularly out of the ordinary. And, disregarding his affluent, world travelling parents, his career of buying, restoring and reselling small apartment buildings around Chicago, in addition to being single and gay at 38, as well as having a police detective brother-in-law; Elliot IS pretty ordinary.

Loss of memory, diverse relationships, photographs, a sister who is driven to see Elliot in a settled relationship, motor homes, a social worker who is more than a friend, 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, a Homicide Cop who is a relative, property to show and sell, a business to run, childhood buddies and childhood enemies, trickery, a building to be gained through any means, and the secrets it holds; all are part of the account.

Elliott Smith, as are all the characters the reader meets in this debut of the series; are believable characters, detailed, enjoying their lives and for some, filled with resolve to aid in the quest to determine the cause for John’s demise.

I like Author Grey's books due large part to his clever character development coupled to the fact that even though Grey mysteries typically focus upon murder of one type or another; the tales are never formula, are not slow, foggy or overly portentous.

His mysteries are fast paced, settings are finely detailed, readers are pulled straight into the action and feel duty-bound to go on with the narrative from opening paragraph to the final sentence. As an added plus; Dorien Grey works are just plain interesting to read. Grey’s well plotted work, leads Elliott to resolve the identity of the spirit voice and find out who it was that murdered him. With his always present mischievous sense of tongue-in-cheek humour Grey adds grist to the question surrounding what exactly is real and what is paranormal, plus he questions associations and distinctiveness and magnitude.

As this new series continues; I look forward to learning how the connection between Elliott and John plays out. I am anxious to see how Writer Grey continues to thread together interesting themes and interesting characters into a reasoned tale loaded with stimulating secondary characters.

We do know fairly early on in the novel who has done it. John's murder is linked to others, and knowing who the murderer is does not weaken our interest. It is the investigation itself that is stimulating as Elliot tries to manoeuvre his brother-in-law in the right direction without revealing that he is getting information from a dead man.

Before the narrative closes John pronounces that he'll hang about inside Elliot's head for a while. I’m pleased to know we can expect more absorbing escapades from this unanticipated duo in the future.

I am looking forward to reading the next in the series, and anticipate more from Grey’s PI Dick Hardesty which series has garnered four finalists for a Lambda Literary Award. Well written, work, His Name is John is an intriguing read, happy to recommend.
Molly Martin (31st January 2012)

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