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Book Review: ‘Ghostman’ grips with tension, pace
6/26/2013 3:31:00 PM

By Daniel Pringle
Liberty Lake Municipal Library


"Trying to catch a ghostman is like trying to catch smoke." 

That's why, when an audacious $1.2 million casino heist in Atlantic City melts down in a hail of gunfire, the crime lord behind it needs the help of the one person who can work against the clock, against his enemies and against the law to find the money and disappear before the noose tightens around his neck.

Debut novelist Roger Hobbs belies his age with well-honed writing and insider knowledge of the ruthless underworld of high-stakes crime. Scenes bounce back and forth between the ghostman trying to stay one step ahead of the feds and rival criminals closing in on the take - and the colossal job he'd blown in Kuala Lumpur five years earlier. The tension heightens with depictions of violence and diabolical details, like the uses of nutmeg and drain cleaner in torture. It all builds to a nerve-racking exchange between the ghostman and the leader of the east coast crime syndicate, with the FBI quickly gaining ground.

Even though the ghostman is by definition faceless and unidentifiable, snippets of his background and character are laid throughout the book - he translates ancient literature in his free time - and he becomes interesting and even sympathetic, especially when compared to the people he at times seems to be working both for and against. A sequel is planned, so we can expect to see more of the thrilling, compelling, fast-paced and hidden world of the ghost. 

Daniel Pringle is adult services and reference librarian at the Liberty Lake Municipal Library.