Seaton, George. “Listening to the Dead”, Lethe Press, 2017.
Solving a Murder with Help from the Dead
It has been a long time since I have reviewed something from Lethe Press but that is another story. Once it seemed like every other book I reviewed was from Lethe. It has also been a long time since I have read something new from George Seaton and I am glad to see that he is still writing.
In “Listening to the Dead” we meet retired Denver Police homicide detective Jack Dolan who has discovered the bodies of two brutally beaten young men near his mountain home. To solve these murders, he calls upon his former lover, Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Michael Day and Tess Shinab, the reclusive Native American woman who like himself has the unusual power of speaking with the dead.
Jack had been a homicide detective who has now retired to a cabin in the mountains. He felt he needed the peace and simplicity after having had a career dealing with murder after murder. Although his ability to speak to the dead gained him quite a reputation for solving murder it also made him feel quite isolated. He also did not feel that he could live openly as a gay man in his profession. He even ended a relationship because of that. Now he is settling in to the peace and serenity that he has wanted for so long but then he sees the bodies and he feels obliged to solve the crime.
While the crime and the investigation are at the center of the story, we also learn about Jack’s life when he was a homicide detective in Denver and how he learned to hear the dead as well as his relationship and about his relationship with Michael.
Jack discovered his ability to hear the dead when he was a rookie police officer. His veteran partner taught him how to listen to the dead in order to solve the mysteries surrounding their murders. As Jack and Michael learn the secrets about the two dead men, they realize that they also have to deal with their own secrets. surrounding the men directly and indirectly involved with this heinous crime, they slowly disclose their own secrets. Both men have lives filled with emotional baggage.
One of the aspects of the novel that makes it unique is that it is about two older gay men and the fact that both are ready to restore their friendship we hear nothing about sex. The real focus here is on friendship. Here are two men who are comfortable together and who have lived similar lives on terms of careers.