My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was another book I bought at the Ohioana book fest (and another very nice author to talk to). I picked this one out of what he had on offer because abandoned buildings make me sad and even sadder is when historical buildings are torn down. The Neil House hotel in Columbus (and I used to live in Columbus) is an active participant in this novel.
Reverend Renner (Renner is his only name) is a priest in the Universal Unitarian faith and is a sensitive when it comes to the supernatural. He receives several invitations to come to the Neil House (he lives in Traverse City, MI). He learns quickly that the Neil House had a storied past but was demolished thirty odd years ago and Huntington Bank headquarters is in its place. He doesn't want to go but he does in spite of himself. He enters the hotel which is there plain as day and quickly learns he can not leave.
Dale Quist, Renner's oft time partner is also a sensitive and a former private investigator who now owns rental cabins in Traverse City (where he ended up via Texas and then LA). He works with a psychic group in TC (as does Renner) lead by Merle. Dale's been asked by Merle to help another member, an old woman who claims to be 120+ years old and believes there is a paranormal object in her home keeping her alive. She wants Quist to find it so she can die. Dale isn't thrilled to be doing this but he's less thrilled to get a call from Renner that sends him to Columbus to try and get Renner out of the hotel that is not making itself seen to him. He ends up in an alliance with a ghost from the Spanish Conquistador days against an evil spirit, Coil.
Renner is having trouble concentrating in the hotel as he meets the ghosts of some of his idols and other dignitaries (Amelia Earhart, James Thurber, and so so many more) and has the ecclesiastical council of his dreams, until he realizes this is the hotel's way of placating him until Beltane.
He meets Angela, a cleaning woman who is the only other living person in the hotel, and together they try to defeat the hotel (which fits back) as they try to puzzle out what it wants them to do in order for the hotel to meet its goals. It is angry it was torn down with no one fighting for it (the author details the weirdness of how this site got destroyed when it probably shouldn't have) and it wants the male and female to come together on Beltane (which is some of the meaning of the holiday) and that holy energy will bring the hotel back into this plane.
WIth Dale on the outside trying to help, Angela and Renner have to defeat a hotel capable of calling any number of ghosts to it.
I liked the story. I liked Renner and Angela. I didn't like Quist that much. I think it was the manly man attitude he has that included a dislike of a lot of things. Quist comes off as oddly homo and trans phobic, odd in that there is a trans woman in this story (who I thought would play a bigger role with the whole male/female thing) and he's upfront of thinking it's wrong and weird but since she's a friend he's okay with it. It was less okay with me.
I haven't read other Renner & Quist stories but I'd like to.
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