Let me begin by saying how thrilled I am to finally be introduced to the work of author, Marshall Thornton! Witty, fast paced, edgy and just downright clever are just a few terms I could use to describe his current story, The Ghost Slept Over. I found myself laughing and gasping in surprise at the depth of humor in this novel and the alternating point of view delivery was smart and very well done. I never floundered in knowing whose voice was narrating the chapter and I felt this type of writing really gave me a more complete understanding of both main characters, not to mention the craziest set of supporting characters to ever grace the page.
Our story revolves around a struggling actor, Cal Parsons, who is currently doing a one-man show featuring a script he wrote about Rock Hudson and his sex life. Not Broadway material by a long shot, poor Cal finds himself living in his truck at the present time and living off paltry residual paychecks that are the result of his three time cameo role on the show, Star Trek: Interloper. Needless to say, our Cal is not quite the success he hoped to be by the age of forty-something. Then, unexpectedly, Cal gets the message that he is to contact a lawyer in some small town and life as he knows it takes a serious upswing with a rather strange caveat.
Being one of only a handful of gay men living in a small town hasn’t made for a terribly successful love life for lawyer Dewitt “Dewey” Morgan. But his philosophical outlook helps him muddle through and his stoic sense of forbearance is clear. When one of his wealthiest clients passes away, he is left to execute his will and award his substantial estate to one Cal Parsons. Knowing little about him other than he is an actor, Dewey sets out to fulfill his duties to the deceased and previously successful playwright, McCormack “Mac” Williams, by contacting Cal and informing him he is now quite wealthy as the sole inheritor.
However, Dewey is also on the board of directors for the local playhouse, The Barnyard Players. An eclectic and zany group of amateur actors, the players relied on the largesse of one Mac Williams to keep them solvent and their doors open. Now Dewey must somehow convince Cal to help the group financially or see its long run end. This would be awkward at best if not for the strange behavior of his client. Jumpy and very nervous, Cal is dealing with lots more than sudden riches, he is also being haunted by none other than his former lover, Mac Williams. Now he discovers his real dilemma is getting rid of Mac, who is determined Cal should die and join him in the afterlife, and then finding some way to not fall in love with Dewey Morgan. Cal is failing on both fronts!
My goodness what an incredibly funny and entertaining novel author Marshall Thornton has provided for us. I completely fell in love with this cast of characters, even going so far as to appreciate the annoying Mac who was set on keeping his former lover, Cal, from finding happiness in anyone else’s arms but his own. The supporting cast was just this side of crazy and their determination to get Cal to fund them knew no boundaries. But ultimately what made The Ghost Slept Over such a delightful story was the two vastly different men who struggled to not fall in love or get attached. After all, Cal had made it clear that he was going to sell all properties and take his one-man show on the road to New York. Therefore, while having a “no strings attached” affair with Dewey was acceptable, his heart was a closed book. So, as the story progresses we are given a window into each man’s inner dialogue and watch as love ultimately triumphs over the most narcissistic of ghosts and the most determined no strings policies.
Author Marshall Thornton is a name I will not forget anytime soon. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work if The Ghost Slept Over is any indication of his writing prowess and remarkable wit.