This Review also appears in the First Issue of Tamarind Rice.
I make things disappear. It's what I do. This time I'm tidying up the loose ends after a casino heist gone bad. The loose ends being a million cash.
But I only have 48 hours, and there's a guy out there who wants my head in a bag.
He'll have to find me first.
They don't call me the Ghostman for nothing...
The first thing about the book that caught my eye was the quote on the cover. 'Fast, hard and knowing: this is an amazing debut full of intrigue, tradecraft and suspense. Read it immediately!' Lee Child. I am an ardent Lee Child fan and so I had no second thoughts about getting started on this book and I had high expectations from it.
The story begins with a detailed description of a heist gone bad. Then we meet our protagonist – an armed robber by profession. He is a Ghostman whose job is to clean up after a crime. As he says, "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 driver’s 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.” For this story however, let’s call him Jack Delton as that’s the alias that gets him this job. He is contacted by an old ‘colleague’ whom he owes for a job gone bad several years ago. That’s when we find out that Marcus was the orchestrator of the heist that the story began with. Now his guy and the money is missing while he owes a drug dealer a hell lot of money and Jack has only 48 hours to clean up this mess.
The first thing that hit me about the book was its protagonist. It is not very often that we get to see a protagonist who is so clearly on the other side of the law. He is an armed robber and not some Robin Hood and that’s what got to me first. We are so used to reading detectives, police, spy and even normal people as the protagonists of a thriller that this is an amazing change. It almost reminded me about Hannibal Lector. Jack is such a chameleon that even at the end of the story we know only so much about him. The plot is amazing… there’s the matter of the missing money, Jack’s connection to Marcus, an elusive enemy who wants Jack dead and the matter of the time limit of 48 hours. These are all the makings of a great thriller. Being fast paced, there’s a lot of action packed into those 300-350 pages. It is a complete page turner that will have you on the edge of your seat for most part of the story. There are twists and turns that were unexpected for me since I had no idea what to expect from this unique protagonist.
The author’s greatest strength is also his weakness. He has an eye for great detail and everything is described in such a manner that there isn’t a part of the story that you will feel unfamiliar with. But at the same time I felt that some detailed descriptions were a tad bit overdone. For instance, while I like to know about the gun and its caliber in details, I really had no interest in the toaster model that Jack owned. Those places made me a bit impatient as I just wanted to get to the action instead of reading a paragraph on a toaster. I have looked up the author and it seems that he is young and fresh out of college and this is his debut novel. Considering that fact, I feel that this is an exceptional debut and hopefully he will only grow over the years.