Sunday, October 03, 2010

Good Reads: The Ghost

I've always liked urbane cynical narrators.The Brits are especially good at the game and that's certainly the case with Robert Harris and his novel The Ghost, which Roman Polanski filmed successfully as The Ghostwriter.

I can't see Tony Blair lying his ass of on TV while book touring without thinking of this novel for The Ghost is clearly about him (some in the British press accused Harris of everything but treason for publishing this novel).

What we have here is a writer who's ghosted a number of autobiographies of celebrity figures. In prestige and money writing for a recently resigned Prime Minister is an enormous step up. He will earn ten million to step in and write the book in a month. The reason for the rush? The previous ghost drowned under strange circumstances and wrote a dull draft that wouldn't sell even with a huge promotion.

Adam Lang, the former Prime Minister, is presently residing in a mansion on Martha's Vineyard. It is here the ghost Rick begins to interview him. Rick soon learns that Lang has at his beck and call his wife, his loyal chief staffer and mistress, and enough armed security men to start a small war. The atmosphere is not unlike that of a horror film. Whispers, harsh voices behind closed doors, threats.

He also begins to understand that Lang is an empty suit. Bright, handsome, fashionable, there is no there there. Except for one thing. The International Court has indicted Lange for rounding up British citizens during the Iraq war and turning them over to the American authorities where they were water boarded. One of them, a nineteen-year-old, died. The British public and pols despise him and want him punished. America is protecting him, which is why he's here, hiding out in the mansion in a bitter winter that Harris evokes stylishly and hauntingly.

If you want a good, angry, occasionally droll (Harris has a lot of fun skewering the publishing industry) this is well worth the paperback or e book money. A truly enjoyable book.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Everyone I know loved the movie. But not me. I am not sure why.

Doug Riddle said...

One of my favorite books that I read last year. Loved the movie, and actually pick up a used copy at Blockbuster last year.

Ron Scheer said...

Big fan of THE GHOST WRITER, too. It reminded me a lot of a Hitchcock thriller - you never know more than the central character, who (if I remember right) is in every scene.