by Raymond Benson
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Pub Date 15 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 01 Aug 2020
Crossroad Press, Gordian Knot Books
WHAT IF YOU, AS A GHOST, HAD TO SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?
From internationally acclaimed and New York Times best-selling author Raymond Benson comes a novel that is a ghost story with a distinctive noir sensibility mixed with David Lynchian surrealism.
The year is 1985. Manhattan’s Times Square area is sleazy, and the streets are full of what Coleman Sackler calls “New York Street Skunk.” Cole is the night manager and self-proclaimed hotel detective for the transient Hotel Destiny, which has been plagued with scandals over the century, including several murders, gangster occupation and ownership, and fleabag status during the 1960s and 70s. Five recent slayings in the building have been attributed to—the police believe—one killer.
“Raymond Benson has crafted a twisty, ghostly, historical detective noir mystery, rich in place and time, and utterly unique. Highly recommended!”
--Tori Eldridge, Anthony and Lefty-nominated author of THE NINJA’S BLADE
“Hardboiled, frightening, and deeply mysterious, Hotel Destiny is a highly entertaining throwback to the days of fun in fiction. Benson delivers a novel where a thousand unlikely things happen, yet the reader never questions, never doubts, and always understands. This is how you know you are in the hands of a master plotter.”
--Darren Callahan, award-winning playwright, novelist, and filmmaker
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
Hotel Destiny is a ghost story and a mystery. Cole Sackler, the hotel detective becomes the latest victim and his ghost tries to find his killer. The book spans several decades as Cole’s ghost travels through the past to find clues to the murderer. It is an easy read with enough twists to keep you guessing.
I really enjoyed this book. Ghost story, mystery, time travel (sort of), and a quest for knowledge. It had everything. It was hard to put down, and could've/should've read it in one sitting. I haven't read Raymond Benson before, but will need to track down more of his work.
It’s 1985. The latest owner has remodeled the transient hotel to its original glamour. Cole is the night manager and hotel detective for Destiny Hotel. (Before the present owner, the hotel had become a place for prositutes, bums, and others.) There has been several murders before Cole was murder and one shortly before the party. Cole is given a costume for opening night by his new boss. As opening night is Halloween, Cole decides to wear the costume with some reluctance. At the Halloween party, Cole sees a woman offering fortune telling. Cole goes to her with questions he has. What are the questions? He then finds himself in the past at the hotel’s original opening night. What does he find out? He finds himself going back and forth in different time eras. Why?
The novel is a ghost story with a mystery within a mystery. It was an irresistible novel for me to read as I discovered more about his experiences and yet I needed to know more. It’s not your typical ghost story. There is haunting but no haunting. It’s definitely a book to read!
When asked, due to the many deaths and murders that have transpired there, if the hotel is haunted, Trent laughs and answers, "I hope so! That will add to its mystique!"
Hotel Destiny, once a lavish hotel fit for the likes of Thomas Edison and Harry Houdini, has suffered much through its time and is now set to become as grand as it once was. The only problem? There is a murderer that has targeted the hotel several times throughout the past few years, which doesn't paint Cole, cynical hotel detective, in a particularly competent light. He couldn't solve the murders in life but perhaps as the latest victim, he can solve them in death.
You read that right. Our main character is a ghost. And don't you worry, that isn't a spoiler. It is right in the blurb and goodness I'm glad it is, otherwise this book would be impossible to review without spoilers and boy howdy would that make this difficult for me. In Cole we have a flawed character to adapt to the afterlife with and attempt to solve those murders with. Unfortunately this book isn't without its own flaws, but we will get to those later.
As always, lets start with characters. There are may we will meet in our journey, but the one we will become most familiar with is of course the main character Cole, who we follow throughout the entire story. He is a deeply flawed man with a checkered past, and getting to discover it as he faces his demons is a fun experience. The unique twist here is that, for the majority of the book, he's dead, so rooting for a happy ending is made more complicated. My biggest issue with him is that he could be frustratingly oblivious when presented with important evidence. I feel like that really dragged out revelations unnecessarily.
Hotel Destiny is probably 85% of the setting in the book named for it. This too is provided with a fresh twist, as Cole can explore different points in the hotel's history, allowing him to piece together clues. And these time jumps are broken up with trips into Cole's own memories, so it doesn't become dull. Agnieszka was an interesting resident of the hotel that I enjoyed encountering.
This book was not without issues. I already touched on Cole's occasional cluelessness that did begin grating on me. Sometimes the rules of the afterlife could be inconsistent and confusing. For example, in some of his memories Cole has zero control over his body, and in others he is able to act of his own accord.
The more I read, the more I encountered repetition in the exposition. In order to orient you in whatever decade you've landed in, information you've already received would be given again. It didn't happen so much that it became super frustrating, but I certainly noticed it.
This is a personal pet peeve for me, so it mightn't bother everyone, but the amount of exclamation points in the narration really irked me. It is part of the reason I can't love Matthew Reilly's work, and it bothered me here too. In dialogue it is perfectly fine, but I feel as if narration shouldn't need exclamation points to emphasise things.
Despite these issues, and the fact that I figured out most of the plot twist early on, I did mostly enjoy my stay at Hotel Destiny. One thing I would like to say is that, if you're a seasoned horror enthusiast, you might not find what you're looking for there. I feel this falls solidly into the realm of murder mystery that happens to feature ghosts. If that sounds appealing to you, then give Hotel Destiny a go when it releases on the 15th of September, 2020.
I jumped at this book based on the subtitle. Who could resist a “ghost noir?” The book
Is very well-written and the initial conceit and setup are great, with a spooky, old hotel, a fortune teller and a costume party, just for starters.
From there unfortunately it lost me a little. Though the book was very well-written and fun, I didn’t find it very suspenseful or scary. At times I thought it was more sci-fi where I had been expecting horror, with portals and mysteries and holes and tunnels in the space-time continuum. I think this book will probably hit much harder and better for those who are more sci-fi, particularly those who are time travel inclined, but that’s not so much my jam. Would have been helpful to know from the blurb or the genre listing that this was more the direction of the book, because I don’t often read that genre.
So in summary, well-written, smart book if you’re more into sci-fi and time travel with your horror. For me, it didn’t hit the spot.
Thanks to NetGalley, Raymond Benson and Crossroad Press for the advance copy! This review is honest and my own.
While I was very hopeful about this, I found myself disappointed. It felt flat, with less suspense than I had anticipated. The writing is decent, the content just wasn’t as I had anticipated.
Down these mean streets a ghost must go... Hotel Destiny is a ghost trap. Die there and you won’t go anywhere except down different timelines while always stuck within the hotel’s walls.
Cole is the latest ghost to check in. However, the hotel is jam-packed with other ghosts too. Were they all killed by the same serial killer? Is the serial killer himself a ghost? Who is the mysterious fortune teller? And how does Cole’s twin brother Charlie fit into the story? As the former hotel detective, who could be better at tracking down the clues and finding at least his own murderer?
I absolutely adored this wholly original story. It really is a ghost noir—combining the best parts of both genres. If you are a noir fan, you will enjoy the original setting. If you are a paranormal devotee, the world-building within Hotel Destiny is excellent. Overall, just a great story. 5 stars and a favorite!
Thanks to Crossroad Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.