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Sunday, May 20, 2012

His Name is John by Dorien Grey

My Review: In his first Elliott Smith Mystery, His Name is John, Dorien Grey has combined two elements that I enjoy very much; a mystery and a ghost story... and he does a fantastic job with both.

Elliott is a wonderful character; he's down-to-earth, hardworking, dedicated and the kind of person I'd love to know. There's nothing phony about Elliott. I admire and respect his work ethic, his undeniable talent appeals to the hidden artist in me, and, for all intents and purposes, what Elliott does with his buildings is nothing short of magic. He is a true artisan; he might not create, but what he does is the next best thing. Grey's descriptions of the buildings Elliott purchases to restore, of the work that he and his team put into them, leave me hungering for the opportunity to live in any of his restored buildings. It's that real to me.

Then there is the painstakingly slow process that Elliott and John go through to discover just what happened to John. And believe you me, the suspense and tension is extremely finely drawn. So much of what Elliott learns comes in dribs and drabs and it is almost too painful; but, surprisingly for me for I am VERY impatient, Grey's timing is impeccable. Actually for Elliott to 'solve' the mystery of John--his life and his death--any more quickly would create an unrealistic scenario... and yes, I became very involved, mentally and emotionally, in the whole thing. In fact, since I got the book last fall I've read it at least twice, and I could easily sit down and read it again.
I'd know, though, to have a box of tissues readily available.

I absolutely love it when, without knowing an author's work, I buy a print copy and find myself utterly captivated by the his writing, the characters and the story. Dorien Grey, and his first Elliott Smith book His Name is John, is such a treasure.

I hope that some of what I've said, and I'm usually much more succinct in my reviews, tempts you to give both the author and the book a chance; I don't think that you will be disappointed.
5 Stars out of 5

His Name is John by Dorien Grey
Publisher: Zumaya Publication
Genre: Gay, Mystery, Ghost
Pages: 208

Story Description: 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.                                 


  1. Kathy, finding a link to your wonderful review in my In Box this morning was like finding a gift on my doorstep, and goes to underscore my long-held belief that there is nothing more important to a writer than a reader who appreciates his/her work.

    Thank you so much! I am in your debt.

    Best Regards,


  2. Hi Dorien,

    It was my pleasure. For me as a reader to find books that I can read over and over again and get something new and exciting each and every time is a gift, one that you've given over and over.
    And I've just started reading the Dick Hardesty mysteries; I must say that I look forward to many more hours of enjoyment.

    Best regards,