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Ghostman (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – July 30, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307950492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307950499
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (406 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A first novel comes along every few years that clearly separates itself from the field, like Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. This year’s Secretariat is going to be Ghostman, a propulsive thriller that combines incredible detail and nonstoppable narrative drive. Jack White is the Ghostman, a pseudonymous loner living far off the grid who specializes in disappearing. After a high-level heist, he makes sure that all traces of the caper vanish. Only once, in Kuala Lumpur, did it all go bad. The organizer of that job, a master criminal named Marcus, blames Jack for the fiasco, so when Marcus penetrates Jack’s deep cover, it clearly means trouble. But Marcus doesn’t want to kill the Ghostman, at least not yet. What Marcus wants is for Jack to even the score by making a botched armored-car robbery in Atlantic City disappear—except, of course, for the take, which has itself disappeared but needs to be found. The clock is ticking because if the $1.2 million in freshly minted bills isn’t recovered quickly, it will explode. Naturally, there are multiple levels of double- and triple-crosses layered within the premise, and Hobbs tantalizingly reveals them—always keeping his hole cards thoroughly vested as he tracks Jack’s progress. The suspense builds inexorably, heightened rather than impeded by the supportive detail with which Hobbs undergirds the action (the backstory on those exploding bills, for example, will have readers wondering how a twentysomething author could possibly know what he knows). There’s also a jaunty, cat-and-mouse subplot involving Jack and a female FBI agent who may be more interested in Jack than the crime. Comparisons to Lee Child are inevitable here, and surely Hobbs possesses a Child-like ability for first unleashing and then shrewdly directing a tornado of a plot, but he also evokes Elmore Leonard in the subtle interplay of his characters. A triumph on every level. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Knopf knows it has a winner here and is backing Hobbs’ debut with the kind of marketing support rarely granted a first novel. Movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers, and options have been signed by 13 publishers across the globe. --Bill Ott --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER   

Booklist Best Mystery of the Year   

Winner of The Strand Critics' Award  

Winner of the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award  

“A pulse-pumping heist thriller.” —Rolling Stone

“Smoking-fast. . . . The debut of a gifted crime writer.” —The New York Times

“Fast, hard and knowing: this is an amazing debut full of intrigue, tradecraft and suspense.  Read it immediately!” —Lee Child
 
“A tense and tightly coiled debut thriller.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“A stunningly accomplished debut. . . . [Hobbs] has the talent to fuel bestsellers and summer blockbusters for years to come.” —The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Richly imagined and darkly fascinating.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A super-slick thriller.”—New York Daily News
 
“Stylishly gritty and fast-paced.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“A first-time novelist who’s . . . already writing with the poise of an old pro. . . . Hobbs is an assured stylist who favors clean, precise prose, [and] handles violence with a lyric touch.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
Ghostman is terrific: lightning-quick, absolutely compelling, and smart as all get-out.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Crackling with action.” —Bloomberg News
 
“Wonderfully hard-boiled.” —Parade
 
“A gripping adrenaline rush, a dirty bomb of a crime thriller with a deceptive plot that confounds and stimulates characters and readers alike.” —Portland Monthly
 
“What [Lee] Child’s debut novel, Killing Floor, did for thrillers, Hobbs does for crime novels.” —Arizona Republic
 
“Hobbs is up there with the best. I don't think I've read a better botched heist than the one that begins Ghostman. It's a masterpiece of hyper-kinetic blocking and deep, vivid detail.”—John O’Connell, The Guardian (London)
 
“A propulsive thriller that combines incredible detail and unstoppable narrative drive. . . . Hobbs possesses a [Lee] Child-like ability for first unleashing and then shrewdly directing a tornado of a plot, but he also evokes Elmore Leonard in the subtle interplay of his characters. A triumph on every level.” —Booklist (starred review)
 
“This watertight debut [is] at once slick and gritty. . .  Straight out of the gate, Hobbs has mastered the essentials of a contemporary thriller: a noir-like tone, no-nonsense prose and a hero with just enough personality to ensure he doesn’t come off as an amoral death machine [as well as] heart-stopping scenes that illustrate how small mistakes can turn catastrophic.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

Customer Reviews

I look forward to his next book.
Jim
It's a hard book to put down because he is very good at ending his chapters with a hook so you keep turning the page to find out what happens.
Julia Flyte
Good story, very creative lead character.
sirrudy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Learn from my mistakes. It was almost bedtime, but I thought I would sample a few chapters of Ghostman by Roger Hobbs before calling it a night. Yeah, good plan - didn't work. And I was very bleary eyed at work the next morning.

Atlantic City. The perfect heist, perfectly planned- treasury bills on their way to a casino. But.....the best laid schemes of mice and men....

When things go horribly wrong, Marcus, the orchestrator (jugmarker) of the heist gets in touch with 'Jack' (aren't all the best anti-heroes named Jack?!) in hopes of salvaging part of his plan. Jack owes Marcus for something that happened on another job. Since that job Jack has disappeared - like a ghost.

"My name isn't really Jack. My name isn't John, George, Robert, Michael or Steven, either. It isn't any of the names that appear on my drivers licenses and it isn't on my passports or credit cards. My real name isn't anywhere, except maybe on a college diploma and a couple of school records in my safety-deposit box. Jack Delton was just an alias, and it was long since retired. I'd used it for a job five years ago and never again since......Only two people in the world knew that name."

Jack is caught between warring criminals, his own proclivity for living on the edge and the past. We slowly learn what happened in the botched robbery five years ago and how Jack came to be the Ghostman.

Hobbs had me hooked from page one. The opening scenes are action filled, addictive and set the pace for the rest of the book. The story never falters or stalls and had me enthralled until I (reluctantly) turned the last page. The plot twists and turns in unexpected directions, taking the reader on a thrill packed ride.
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114 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Bonner '62 VINE VOICE on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author is a good writer. he is concise, clear and keeps the story moving. I give it three stars because it is a worthwhile read. The problem is, by choice, the main character who we follow for 350 pages is a cypher. He is a ghost whose specially is being able to disappear after pulling a job for a mob boss. So he is colorless by choice but at the end of the book you say "so what?" because you never connect. There are some loose ends. This non-person is met by an FBI agent when he arrives at Atlantic City to do a job and she is able to track him at will thereafter. That doesn't seem to get in the way of our "invisible" man. Also the local mob boss has no trouble repeatedly finding the "hero" even though his goons can't seem to kill our boy. The anti-hero repeatedly overcomes long odds to walk away the only man standing even if he is unarmed and outnumbered. I'll let you get back to the usual Amazon 5 star reviews now.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mal Warwick on February 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When you wander through your local bookstore, or a drugstore or Wal-Mart, you'll probably pass by a rack of paperback books with lurid covers that are usually labeled as thrillers. Pick up one of these books, and what are you likely to find? A superhero cop, spy, or private investigator -- one who combines the strength of an Olympic gold medalist with an IQ of 165 and the ability to outfight the biggest, baddest bad guy ever to come down the pike. Apparently, a former British naval intelligence officer named Ian Fleming started this unfortunate tradition half a century ago. Now, it seems, we can't shake it.

Here, then, comes young Roger Hobbs with a new twist on the thriller. Hobbs' protagonist -- his hero, it would seem -- is not a superhero cop, spy, or private investigator. He is, in fact, an unrepentant, lifelong armed robber and murderer who combines the strength of an Olympic gold medalist with an IQ of 165 and the ability to outfight the biggest, baddest bad guy ever to come down the pike. Oh, but this guy never murders anyone unless it's absolutely necessary! And, in the course of Roger Hobbs' debut novel, Ghostman, he only kills maybe six or eight guys. (He doesn't like to murder women, we're told. Unless it's absolutely necessary.)

The title character is the guy on a team of bankrobbers who makes things disappear, including himself. He seamlessly shifts from one disguise to another, adopting a wide variety of names but never revealing his own. By applying makeup, coloring his hair, changing his voice and his gait, he manages to put on 20 years in an hour -- and we're expected to believe that he remains undetected even by someone sitting within two feet of him. The few people who really know him call him Ghostman.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. Rebchook on February 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really wanted to love this book, and at first it was pretty exciting. His main character is intriguing, and heist novels always promise enough twists and turns to hold a reader's interest.

Ultimately, though, after looking below the surface, the story just doesn't cut it.

The main problem is the failure to develop any of the characters. We learn that the Ghostman is uniquely talented in the fine art of disappearing, though we never really understand why or how he does this. Sure, he somehow has a seemingly endless supply of fake passports and driver's licenses (from where we never learn), but beyond that the obvious questions are left unasked, let alone answered. What does he do with his cash? How do you go about spending $100K in hundred dollar bills without attracting the attention of the IRS? He tells us at one point that he has a bank account in "the South Pacific" that he never visits, but he never tells us how the cash gets into it.

And does he have any emotional attachment to anyone? Does he have a sex life? The subject isn't even mentioned.

Then there's the story itself. To start with, it's intertwined with a tale of a heist in Malaysia that failed because of the narrator's error, but when we finally learn the details it simply makes no sense whatever. And he introduces a female FBI agent, leading us to expect the development of some sort of relationship, but that ultimately goes nowhere, and its resolution just doesn't work.

For me the book jumped the shark in a scene lifted from "The Deer Hunter" that was the culmination of a series of progressively more incredulous narrow escapes.
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Ghostman (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
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