James Ralston came back from the war scarred, and although he managed to hold onto his police detective position for a while, the damage done to his eye got steadily worse, almost resulting in his partner getting killed. Relegated to cold cases and reduced hours, James needs something to fill the financial gap, and so now he finds himself working as the night security guard at the Pacific Blue hotel.
Mysterious Franklin Fairchild spends his nights sitting in an armchair, listening to waltzes in the radio room, but James can’t figure out Franklin’s story. Night after night, James checks in on Franklin, and time and time again, Franklin simply walks away, until the night the two men finally talk and a tenuous connection is made.
James can’t stop thinking about Franklin and finally gives in to his curiosity, deciding to confront Franklin. When Franklin does not answer the door to his suite, James breaks protocol and uses his master key to enter Franklin’s rom, only to discover Franklin half-naked, fresh from the shower. The men give in to their desires, but James is shocked when another man appears in the room, threatening Franklin, beating James, and fleeing the hotel with Franklin in tow. A battered and bruised James cannot let Franklin be taken against his will, and gives chase, but will he succeed in saving Franklin?
For a novella, I found that Cochet did a good job creating James’ character, giving him a plausible back-story and quite a bit of depth. Franklin, in contrast, was not a well developed character, but with reason. We are given just enough information about him to feel satisfied, but not enough to unravel the mystery surrounding his stay at the hotel.
It felt like the hotel was the critical secondary character, along with night manager, Leslie, who was related to the original owner and knew much of the history of the hotel, which ended up being so critical. I also must admit to being left wondering about Leslie at the end of the story, and you will understand what I mean once you have read the book too. I was dumbfounded by the revelation, that’s for sure, and it made me go back and look at all of the characters again with a critical eye.
Not that I am complaining, but I really should read the publisher blurb before selecting a book, if for no other reason than not to be surprised by the content. This is a finely crafted ghost story that kept me guessing until nearly the end.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.