Thursday, June 11, 2009



Billie’s Ghost, the 2005 debut novel from Chad Hautmann, is a must read for jazz and blues fans. A young widower, suffering from depression, drunkenness, and loneliness, finds his home infiltrated by a woman who may or may not be the ghost of Billie Holiday. She comes and goes without warning and makes him doubt his sanity – this is Laura for the jazz set.

This is a dark, yet lyrical story, filled with the rhythms and beats of Billie Holiday’s voice at its sad, haunting best. And despite the themes of depression, blues, and death, Billie’s Ghost is a satisfying, uplifting read by the time its last page is turned and last note sounded.

It’s been a year since Casey’s wife died, leaving him the youngest widower in Naples, Florida, and in the throes of a seemingly bottomless depression. Now he lives only for nighttime, drinking to forget and listening to Ellington, Coltrane, and Davis. His friends have given up on him, and he’s certainly given up on himself. That is, until Billie Holiday – or someone eerily reminiscent of her – drops into his life.

She calls herself Eleanora, and while she may be the result of Casey’s loneliness and drinking, there is no mistaking that beautiful, had-some-rough-times-voice, so like Lady Day’s. But no matter who she is, she soon becomes the one source of light in Casey’s dark world, helping him to find solace, reenter the world, and rid himself of the guilt that has plagued him since his wife’s death.

Haunting and luminous, Billie’s Ghost is a novel of hope, faith, and learning to move on.

So, more Nicholas Sparks than Dashiel Hammett, but I enjoyed this slim tome. I think you will too, especially if the voice of Billie Holiday in the dark of the night raises your goose bumps.


pattinase (abbott) said...

She certainly was one of the greatest stylists ever. Sounds like fun to read.

Scott Parker said...

That's certainly interesting. Haven't read Laura either. But, I love jazz so I might give this one a try.