Woah. I’m way behind in my reviews. This is number six, and the book is a real number two.
Nathan Gallagher doesn’t believe in ghosts. As a fireman, he’s seen his share of dead people, but they never spoke to him before—until now. His marriage is great, and his relationship with his son is strong, but Nathan is sure that if he tells his family that he’s seeing ghosts, it is a quick ticket to a padded room and a straightjacket.
Sounds good, right? I’m thinking maybe the ghosts lead him to arsonists and he’s got to convince people he’s just getting really good at finding clues to fires, while the cops think he’s the arsonist, and his family thinks he’s cracking up.
Nathan Gallagher has this fantastic marriage and a good relationship with his teenage son. And then all of a sudden he starts to see ghosts. They attack him. He has a few sleepless nights and resorts to drinking too much so he’ll pass out and get some sleep.
His loving wife suddenly flips out on him. Is there some history of alcoholism and she’s worried about him? No. She just goes apeshit because he drank. The booze that was already in the house. It’s an extreme overreaction. Instead of saying “holy shit, Nate. You normally don’t have more than a few fingers of scotch and suddenly you down half a bottle in one night. Dubya-Tee-Eff?” she goes off on how he’s terrible and just storms off to work.
“But Morgan,” you might be saying, “Couldn’t it be a symptom of ghosts being in the house?”
Blah blah blah stuff happens he has pages and pages of internal monologue about how he can’t tell anyone because he’ll end up in a padded room in a straightjacket with electrodes on his head. Until he tells his wife. No one –no one, not even his nurse wife– says “don’t be an idiot, Nate.” Even his wife is like “OMG psychiatry is a new science and not totally proven, but I’m kicking you out until you get help”.
At one point during all this she calls him “Nick” instead of “Nate.” This isn’t foreshadowing or anything. It’s just one of the many typos and things that didn’t get caught in editing (possibly because there was no editing).
In the space of three weeks he goes from strong firefighter guy to malnourished, unshaven dude in a straightjacket in a padded room. He’s put on drugs for schizophrenia for a few days and it doesn’t work, so they jump right to electroshock therapy. IT GOES WRONG! (Dun-dun-dunnnnn). He’s supposed to be sedated for it, but he isn’t and he feels all of it and it’s really painful and I don’t know?
And then the ghosts that have been tormenting Nate set the hospital on fire so they can see him in action as a firefighter, despite the fact that… you know… he’s a patient there and not currently a firefighter, and he’s lost weight and hasn’t worked out in three weeks and hasn’t slept in about a month and is drugged up, but he manages to save one of the doctors and the ghosts are satisfied that he actually IS a good guy and tell him they’re going to leave him alone.
Oh. And in the few weeks he’s in the hospital somehow the father he’s been estranged from for something like 25 years, who’s never met his wife and son, reconnects with the family because of this trauma, and they all lived happily ever after.
There’s a lot of lazy research in the book. The firefighter stuff seems off (I admit I know very little about how it works, but it just doesn’t seem right). The wife is a nurse but doesn’t seem to understand anything about medical care or medications or… compassion. Then the wife has him forcibly committed and the police handcuff him with his hands in front, and then they just drop him off at the asylum and leave him handcuffed. I guess they’ll just pick up those handcuffs when they bring in the next guy? The whole book paints the psychiatric profession in a really bad light (the asylum literally has gargoyles out front!).
I do actually read books that I like, guys. I do. I promise I’ll start reviewing some of those. Eventually. The less-than-good books are just more fun to talk about.