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.
I have enjoyed Kim Fielding’s Bones series so when I saw Motel. Pool. on Dreamspinner’s website, I figured I would give it a try. It sounded interesting. Jack’s from the 1950s and dies at a very young age. Tag’s from current day and his life is hopeless. Running from his life, he accidentally picks up a ghost on his way through Route 66.
First off, I loved it. I truly did. But be warned – have a tissue (or ten) ready.
Jack is a great character. He had dreams and they’ve been destroyed so he heads home from California to Omaha, NE, only to find himself stranded and staying at a motel on Route 66. He’s despondent and out of control. In no time at all, he’s drunk, stoned, and falling into the motel swimming pool. I loved that the ghost Jack never blamed people from his past. He’d worked through that and was just happy to be able to go somewhere besides the motel.
Tag’s got issues. Major issues. He comes from one of those couples who probably never should have had children. He had to raise himself and is so fiercely independent that he cannot trust anyone else. And suddenly, he finds himself having hallucinations. There’s a man in his car who wasn’t there two seconds ago.
Both Tag and Jack are great characters, as are Buddy and the policeman. As paranormal as the story was, the only thing that didn’t feel right was at the very end with Betsy – but I’m not gonna reveal what that was *wink*. But that felt so unrealistic that it took the story from 5 to 4 stars.