But it doesn't take him long to realise he has made a terrible mistake. His predecessor on the project died in circumstances that were distinctly suspicious, and the ex-prime minister turns out to be a man with secrets in his past that are returning to haunt him.
©2007 Robert Harris; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"I was astonished by this novel"
Like most people who marched in London on February 15th 2003, I hated that UK foreign policy seemed merely to be hanging onto the coat tails of terrifying American imperialism. The lordly refusal of those causing such hurt ever to engage with the reality of the horror was nauseating.
Expecting an expose of the later Blair years I was not disappointed. But this novel is not about hatred or even retribution.
Having read in the 2007 Guardian review that "the novel owes its existence, its composition...to Harris's anger at Blair and his administration" I had been expecting a hatchet job that would satisfy my frustrated contempt for such world leaders. I expected to be invited to detest the thinly veiled characters of Adam Lang and his entourage.
And yet, to my astonishment, Harris caused me to feel a sort of grudging sympathy for almost every character in the book. Which is not to say that any one of them is sympathetic. They are an evident mixture of the real and imagined but they ring true as people, motivated by various shades of black, white and grey. Even the ghost writer himself is drawn into behaviour that he knows is as morally blurred as that of the charming, dangerous fake into whose life story he must try to inject some measure of heart and humanity.
Following the ghost writer's dawning fascination with his predecessor's grisly fate and his deepening suspicion of uncomfortable mysteries beginning to crowd in on him too, one is carried along very fast into this world. Yet it's a world where the tense boredom of lost power, replacing the exciting narcotic of present power, has its own danger.
And if your response is like mine, you will find your heart racing at many points in the beautifully written and brilliantly read narrative. The ending is extraordinary. I was left with a feeling - not of hatred for the the idiocies of politicians - but with a feeling of sadness for the frailties we all share.
"A good straightforward thriller"
This was my first encounter with Robert Harris, and I enjoyed it very much ? a good, straightforward thriller. Some reviewers have said that the plot is a bit far-fetched, but surely that is the nature of a thriller ? if it dealt with ordinary, everyday events, it wouldn?t be very exciting or intriguing.
The story is told in a well-written, straightforward style, without literary pretensions or unnecessary background detail. The world-weary, hard-drinking protagonist remains likeable despite his failings, and although I sort of guessed how it was going to end, the final twist was neatly done.
It was beautifully read by Michael Jayston in a smooth, neutral tone that allowed me to lose myself in the story. The only critical comment I would make is that two characters have similar-sounding names: Rhinehart and Rycart. On the printed page this would not have been a problem, but I kept getting mixed up as to who was who.
The consensus seems to be that this is not one of Robert Harris?s best books ? in that case I?m delighted, as it means I have lots to look forward to!
"The Ghost - Unabridged"
I can't add any more to existing reviews regarding the quality of the story - excellent... but the recording is a bit tinny and Michael Jayston's constant gasping is incredibly irritating and completely spoilt the listening experience for me.
"A great conspiracy theory"
A very good listen, not least because Michael Jayston makes an excellent storyteller. The story has a good pace and ends with a surprising twist. The context raises an eyebrow or two but has put a wonderful conspiracy theory into a good novel .......or should that be faction? I couldn't sympathise with Adam Lang but I would never have expected to. Instead, and very enyoyably, this fictional character confirmed my expectations as his weak and shallow nature was exposed. All in all, a tale that although, far fetched, is credible enough to allow your thoughts to roam!!
"A good read"
review of the book not the audio book, however this is a great story with a very current setting and plot line. The story moves at a good pace and keeps you wondering where it is going next.
It is well written with enough description to make you feel like you are there with the characters without holding back the speed of the plot.
"The Ghost - great read."
Another brilliant book from Robert Harris. Intriguing and different. The story let's the reader into the world of power politics with a humanistic point of view and at the same time maintains a thrilling and danger filled plot. I couldn't put it down, as with every Robert Harris book.
Robert Harris knows his trade and publishers prefer predictable novels. VOILÁ… the author delivers a credible plot with plausible characters. it may not shake the world - except for those with closer emotional links to the british islands and a slavish admiration for Tony Blair (sorry, no offense is intended) - but overall it extends an agreeable "reading" material to one chooses to read a thriller with topical ambitions.
"Good story.. not a great one."
The main interest for me was comparing the characters with the Blairs, take out this element and the book is a little lightweight. Definitely not his best work to date.. Robert Harris is a much better author than this.
The plot fascinated me from the very start: Well-written, well-read, logical, and full of believable surprises. A masterly book. Michael Jayston's authoritative voice worked extremely well for me (the age difference did not bother me in the least), and I looked forward to the 30-minute drive to work and back again to continue this gripping audiobook.
"Could it be true?"
An enjoyable thriller with some red herrings along the way and a neat twist at the end. The parallels to a recent Prime Minister are obvious and have been widely reported. I couldn't help having him and his wife in mind while listening. I thought the narration was excellent and wouldn't agree with a previous reviewer's comment that the disprity in age between the main character, whose account this is, and the narrator is evident. Worthy of four stars but it didn't quite grip me enough to award five. However, it does leave one wondering whether the scenario laid out could really happen...
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