Bane of Kings reviews what could potentially be one of the best thriller debuts in 2013, Ghostman, written by Roger Hobbs and published in the UK by Transworld Books.
“An awesome novel. Action packed, fast paced, and a great character. Lee Child, watch your back.” ~The Founding Fields
I have to confess before starting this review that I don’t read as many thrillers as I would like. I’m nearly up to date on James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, and have read the first two Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child – and three books from David Baldacci. (Split Second, Zero Hour & The Innocent), and I think that’s pretty much it. But the thriller genre is certainly something that I’d like to read more of and when I saw Ghostman on NetGalley, I thought – why not? After all, it certainly looks like it could be a winner, especially if you read the blurb below. And was it a winner? Oh hell yes. Ghostman was an awesome book.
I make things disappear. It’s what I do. This time I’m tidying up the loose ends after a casino heist gone bad. The loose ends being a million cash.
But I only have 48 hours, and there’s a guy out there who wants my head in a bag.
He’ll have to find me first.
They don’t call me the Ghostman for nothing.
I couldn’t put this book down. Hobbs has nailed the pace, the atmosphere and the tension. The book kept ramping up in the stakes as I progressed further through its pages and I believe it is one of the books where you will find yourself staying up ridiculously late to finish it. Certainly a two-in-the-morning page turner in that regard, and that is one of the things that makes Ghostman a really engaging read. A disadvantage of some thrillers is that when they’re focused on the action and the pace, they sometimes forget about the character development and often leave the reader with carbon copies of Jack Reacher. However, whilst Ghostman’s lead, Jack – bares the same forename as Reacher, the character himself is very different. For one, Jack doesn’t abide by the same rules as Reacher. And for another, Jack isn’t Jack’s real name.
He’s a Ghostman, responsible for making people disappear, covering up crime scenes and preventing the federal agents and the Cops from finding their prey. Whilst Hobbs could have fallen into the trap of making “Jack” an unlikable anti-hero, he still manages to make the lead character likable and you won’t have any worry about wanting to root for him – despite the fact that he is effectively the bad guy. If you’re looking for a clear line between good and evil in Ghostman, then forget it – as most characters have varying morals, especially since most of them work on the wrong side of the law.
The book itself is told entirely from Jack’s first person POV, and we’re never given a look into the other characters heads. This is another thing that worked to Hobbs’ advantage, as a thing that bugged me about James Patterson’s Alex Cross series was that they seemed to switch from the bad guy to the hero every other page or so, never sticking around for one character long enough. Whilst it may have increased the tension in Alex Cross, I was hoping that Hobbs would avoid that route in Ghostman. And he has. The book deals with two different stories despite the narrative being told entirely by one character – and we switch between the past and the present stories in such a way that works really well, and doesn’t have the reader’s attention focused only on one storyline. Hobbs’ fast, action-packed and realistic prose makes the reader want to pay attention to both.
For those who want to hear the criminal world’s answer to Jack Reacher, then look no further. Ghostman is the book that you’re looking for. Great characterization, great pace, and some great action. A debut not to be missed.