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Ghostman (Jack White Novels) Paperback – July 30, 2013
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A 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)
About the Author
Roger Hobbs was the youngest-ever winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and is a recipient of the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and the Maltese Falcon Prize. Born in 1988, Hobbs graduated from Reed College in Portland. Mr. Hobbs died in 2016.
Top customer reviews
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The plot revolves around a casino robbery in Atlantic City and a debt the Ghostman owes to a jugmarker - a master criminal who organizes and executes large-scale robberies. In this case, there are double and triple-crosses, a huge sum of money, a thrilling back-story and a super abundance of delicious detail of how crime on an industrial scale is planned and executed. If Ocean's Eleven (2001) had a grittier more authentic element to it, you'd be close to the mark here. What is all the more amazing is that this authentic-feeling crime drama was written by a 24 year-old Reed college graduate.
It is not often that I am so enthusiastic about an author or a book - this is one of the unusual instances where I am. That Hobbs tragically died having written only two books is crime in and of itself. For fans of thrillers, crime novels, or simply a well-crafted and well-written story, I give _Ghost Man_ my highest recommendation.
From a literary perspective, the book is, in my opinion, a satisfying thriller. The writing is sound, and easy to read (if a bit wooden and long-winded at times); the characters are believable and functional; the story is engaging and coherent (though it does wax hyperbolic towards the end, I thought). As a novel, 'Ghostman' didn't quite knock me out of my socks, but it was solid enough for me to finish it without issue.
However, what I found most worthwhile about the book is its intellectual aspect. Namely, the author did a good job of exploring the unconventional psychology and novel logistics which factor into crime, as to present an interesting (and quite valid) sociological study. This element was what I hoped for when buying the book (since, in my experience, such fictional depictions can serve as powerful learning tools, as to yield real-world, universal knowledge about things with no relation to crime), and I was not disappointed. By seeing things through the Ghostman's eyes (however imaginary or theoretical they may be), I was forced to reexamine the world and my place in it, thus gaining some perspective and a more sound understanding of myself -- and all from a work of fiction, no less. Cool.
All in all, I finished 'Ghostman' feeling equally educated and entertained. Good stuff.
My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service.
I think the author has great potential and we probably should forgive him the problems with this first book. As with many young authors, he has too many ideas. Robb may think the Atlantic City and the Kuala Lumpur story play neatly off each other, but they don't. The KL story is overwritten, and is actually not necessary to explain the Atlantic City story. This back story for the Ghostman could have been dealt with in a chapter, at most. I started to get annoyed with how much time was being spent on this KL story, as it slowed down, and not in a good way, the initial tension generated by the Atlantic City story.
The other issue is that Robb seems to have a problem writing women. The two female characters who have significant roles are never fleshed out properly. I came away not knowing why their characters did what they did, especially in the supposedly formative relationship in the KL story.
Robb has obviously read Lee Child. If he has not already done so, he should read all of Rchard Stark's series of Parker novels about an amoral thief. His Ghostman owes a lot to Stark.
He is the narrator of this story, which actually tells of two heists. One was five years ago in Kuala Lumpur and did not end well, and then the present day robbery in Atlantic City.
This story is full of interesting facts and figures about the robbery business, from cool gadgets to lengthy explanations of each person's role in heists.
I especially liked the explanations of how "Jack" disappears during and after a job.
This was a fast-paced read. It was filled with unappealing characters but it drew me in nonetheless. It kept me interested enough, so that even though I have mixed feelings about the book, I'm now going to read the second book in the series - VANISHING GAMES.