Review: Jack Morton — not his real name, but an identity that he's comfortable assuming — is blackmailed by one Marcus Hayes — a criminal mastermind — into cleaning up the mess left behind after a botched armored car robbery at a casino in Atlantic City he planned leaves two men dead and a third missing with the money in Ghostman, a stand-along thriller by Roger Hobbs.
A ghostman is just that: someone who can move among the population unnoticed, getting things done without drawing attention to themself. And Jack is a very good ghostman. So he's puzzled that an FBI agent has already made him just after he lands at Atlantic City's airport. And he's further puzzled when he learns he's being followed … but not Feds or the police or anyone else official. Neither are slowing him down. The money stolen was from the Federal Reserve, embedded with powerful ink bombs that will detonate within 48 hours if not deactivated. Jack's assignment is to get the money to Marcus so that he can turn it over to a drug lord as payment for a shipment. Jack suspects he's not being given the whole story, but he has no choice but to follow through.
Ghostman is an exciting novel as Jack tries to keep one step ahead of the FBI and the mysterious men following him, all the while trying to figure out not only where the missing man and money are but what it is about the story Marcus has told him that doesn't ring quite true. The primary storyline moves along at a brisk clip, a pace that helps one overlook the awkwardly constructed narrative and much of the frequently inelegant prose in general. A lengthy — and largely unnecessary — backstory is told in interstitial chapters, purportedly to explain how Jack came to be in Marcus's debt. It almost seems as if the heist of the backstory might have originally been an outline for a full-length, now abandoned, novel and rather than toss the ideas aside, the main points were repurposed here in a rather clumsy manner. Jack isn't developed much as a character, but that is probably more intentional than not as he is supposed to be a "ghost", as it were. These are all, to be sure, somewhat minor criticisms of the book as the overall story arc does indeed work well as an entertaining thriller.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Ghostman for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Ghostman: Atlantic City, New Jersey
— ♦ —
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Publication Date: February 2013
List Price: $24.95