Grey Daze by Michael Allan Scott is a 306-page supernatural thriller published in 2015 selling for USD 2.99 on Amazon but available free through Kindle Unlimited. It is supernatural in that some of the characters have feelings that they can communicate with dead relatives, some of the characters more so than others. Lance is a full-on out-of-the-closet psychic. His psychic powers were revealed to the public by an investigative journalist and he has received unwanted attention ever since. His visions don’t merely come and go. He is able to check in with his dead wife, Sonja, almost at will. Sonja gives him advice about whatever current problems he has and occasionally lets him know things coming up in the immediate future. That is quite friendly of her considering Lance believes he killed her. Sonja’s sister, Hilde thinks Lance killed her. Lance is occasionally in court because Lance’s nephew, a lawyer, has brought charges of manslaughter against Lance for killing Sonja. The one “person” who believes Lance didn’t kill Sonja is Sonja; she constantly gives reassurances to Lance that he is not at fault while she is helping Lance to solve another murder.
This is not a novel about Lance. He is just spiritual support (pun intended) to Callie. Callie has an uncle she can’t reach. She checks in with him periodically as he is eighty years old, she thinks he is probably lonely, and she remembers good times with Uncle Harold from when she was a child. She is right to try; he is dead, the victim of a scam that took Uncle Harold for almost one million dollars from his pension funds. When Callie can’t reach him, she calls Lance who has already had a dream about Harold and his fate. Although Lance would like to meet with Callie, he gets arrested before he can do so leaving Callie with nothing to do but try to enlist the aid of Jake Jacobs, the “two Jakes” of his PI business. Jake is ex-Navy SEAL, so we have a character with the necessary muscle and skill to deal with whoever may have killed Harold. Jake’s dark deeds in the past, necessary to his work as a SEAL, has produced the stereotypical cold, emotionless, aloof character. But girlfriend Laura sees through all that. Six years older than Jake, she introduces Jake to new worlds and experiences.
Characters who help include Frank and Lacy. Frank is a cop; other characters will refer to him when the time is right to bring in authorities. Characters who don’t help but move the story along are the gang of bad folks. There is Maria, the nurse’s aid who killed Harold (not a spoiler, the reader will know this in the first chapter). Denny is Maria’s live-in boyfriend. They live in a crowded trailer; the meth cooking gear takes up a lot of room. Moon is Denny’s boss and the next step up in a meth distribution chain. Jake has a lot to do.
There is a lot going on in this novel. The murder mystery is not who killed Harold, it is how they will get caught. Will Lance come to terms with his wife’s death and escape the bogus murder charges? That is another parallel important story. Will Callie and Lance develop a romantic relationship? Perhaps, there are subtle hints of and interesting problems with such a relationship. Will ex-military Jake be able to lead a normal life that includes an exclusive relationship with an older woman rather than with the occasional weightlifter groupies?
I like the way the characters are slowly developed. Their past flaws made them what they are and the flaws are revealed in a step-by-step fashion. This is a collection of aged characters. I never felt comfortable with knowing exactly how old everyone is in the story. We know Laura is six years older than Jake and Jake is a retired Navy Seal? How old are these folks? Callie has grown children, has gone through menopause, and Lance appears to be receiving Social Security benefits. This might be a story of senior romance. Frank is a senior police officer. Uncle Harold died at over eighty years of age and there are hints he still had an active sex life. Everybody seems to be old except the gang of dopers who are supposed to die young anyway. All these experienced characters give author Scott room for character development and he does it well.
There is a surprise ending although there are hints in different parts of the book about what it might be. There are enough other situations that must come to a conclusion that this twist might not have been needed but it does provide an additional kick.
Readers might want to look at the author’s notes at the almost end of the book. He describes his research; it is always something of interest to me. Following that is an excerpt from a follow-on book. It is my preference never to read excerpts such as this. If I liked this book, and I did, I will read the next one. The excerpt spoils things for me.
And my last address in the US was in Scottsdale, AZ. But that is only of interest to me.