“I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.” ― Salman Rushdie
Title: Motel. Pool.
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 206 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: In the mid-1950s, Jack Dayton flees his working-class prospects in Omaha and heads to Hollywood, convinced he’ll be the next James Dean. But sleazy casting couches don’t earn him stardom, and despair leads to a series of poor decisions that ultimately find him at a cheap motel off Route 66, lifeless at the bottom of the pool.
Sixty years later, Tag Manning, feeling hopeless and empty, flees his most recent relationship mistake and takes to the open road. On a roundabout route to Las Vegas, he pulls over to rest at an isolated spot on Route 66. There’s no longer a motel or pool, but when Tag resumes his journey to Vegas, he finds he’s transporting a hitchhiking ghost. Jack and Tag come to find much-needed friends in each other, but one man is a phantom and the other is strangely cursed. Time is running out for each of them, and they must face the fact that a future together may not only be a gamble… it may not be in the cards.
Review: What an awesome ghost story! This has got to be one of the best in a long while, because Kim Fielding did something different with this book, and I liked it!
I wasn’t too sure how I felt about Jack Dayton when I first met him at the beginning of the story, in 1955-1956. It seemed this young man was fast becoming jaded with life. Sam, the sleazy old director, had a lot to do with turning Jack into this bitter young man. Making promises to Jack in order to get into his pants is, in my book, the lowest of the low. Then again, Jack knew by sleeping with Sam that he was selling himself in a way that he’d lose respect for himself. But Jack had dreams of becoming a star and owning a mansion in Beverly Hills, so he was willing to do almost anything to make his dream come true, except be passed off to one of Sam’s friends.
Heading back home to Omaha, Nebraska, and in despair of a lost dream, Jack finds himself stranded in Jasper, Nevada. It’s at this low point in Jack’s life that he makes the mistake of calling Sam with an ultimatum.
Now, we jump forward to the present day:
Tag Manning has his own set of problems. Born with luck on his side, he has managed to screw up every opportunity that has been handed to him, including leaving what was considered the perfect man in his life. Feeling numb and detached from life, his journey leads him to Las Vegas, and to Jack Dayton. Tag is on his way to the Grand Canyon when he’s pulled over by a patrolman for weaving all over the road. After convincing the officer that he’s not on drugs or drunk, Tag follows the advice of the officer and pulls into the deserted town of Jasper to get some much needed sleep.
Since Jack has spent the last sixty years as a ghost, isolated in this deserted town, he hitches a ride with Tag in spirit form and finally reveals himself after Tag leaves the Grand Canyon, at which point poor Tag nearly has a heart attack and figures he’s finally become a paranoid schizophrenic like his mother. There is a great comic moment or two while Tag is debating his sanity. Since Jack can become corporeal when needed, eventually Tag is convinced that Jack is really a ghost and not something that he mentally inherited from his mother or father. But when they stopped at Hoover Dam, the other spirits that reside there tell Jack a little about the spirit world that he should be made aware of. Jack must find out what his unfinished business is so that he can move on, or face an even worse outcome…especially if he continues in his present form.
For one who loves her ghost stories, this novel was quite different from the usual fare. Both the story and the characters kept me riveted until the very end, not to mention when I finished reading Motel. Pool. I kept going back into the story to read my favorite parts over again. I love it when a ghost story haunts me afterwards!
Kim Fielding has a wicked flair for writing a hauntingly believable storyline, and I’m hoping for a sequel. I’d love to find out more about this particular spirit world that Ms. Fielding has created, so I’m happily giving Motel. Pool. an enthusiastic 5 Star rating! Strongly recommended!
You can buy Motel. Pool. here: