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Ghosts Know [hc] [Hardcover]

Ramsey Campbell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: PS Publishing; First edition (10 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848632029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848632028
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,418,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Before I can retreat a youth runs up the steps behind me. I haven't time to think-I feel as if my clenched fists are swinging me around to punch him in the face. His lips split and squash wetly against my fist, and his chin bruises a knuckle. I would hit him again, but he flounders down a couple of steps until Si thumps his shoulders with an arm to steady him. They're blocking my retreat, and Si lifts his knife as if I've given him another reason to use it. Jay's helper has run to prevent me from jumping down onto the towpath, even if I could without breaking a leg. My only chance is to take Jay on. As I start along the walkway he jerks up his knife . . . How did I get here? I'm Graham Wilde, the presenter of Wilde Card on Waves Radio. A few weeks ago I interviewed a psychic who was helping the police search for a missing girl. He seemed to know more about me than he should, but I knew more about him than he expected, and perhaps that's where all my troubles began. He kept after me, first of all on my show and then at a funeral, and he wasn't the only one there who did. What else could I do except find out who was responsible for what people seemed to think I'd done? But I didn't realise how much danger I was putting myself in until it was too late . . . Since Needing Ghosts Ramsey Campbell has been developing his own brand of comedy of paranoia. Is it humour so dark that it shades into horror, or horror that grins like a skull? You can find it in The Count of Eleven and Secret Stories and The Grin of the Dark, and now Ghosts Know joins his macabre circus.

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Having the chance to read Campbell's early work, the Lovecraft/Derleth influenced short story collection The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants (hereafter The Inhabitant) , and his latest novel, Ghosts Know, is worthwhile and illuminating, providing a riveting reminder of his innate talent, simultaneously showing how far he has come in terms of subject matter and in honing his craft.

The Inhabitant is a small revelation, showcasing an emerging talent, one who is finding his way through almost slavish emulation of what he no doubt considered a superior talent at the time. It's his first collection, presenting some of his earliest work, ably edited by August Derleth, and published by the estimable Arkham House. A collection of ten Cthulhu Mythos stories, featuring tales with titles like "The Horror from the Bridge," "The Insects from Shaggai," and "The Render of the Veils," its most notable achievement is adding the UK as Lovecraftian terrain; at Derleth's suggestion, Campbell revised many of his original efforts, originally set in the New England, adding the cities of Brichester, Goatswood, and Clotton and the Severn Valley region to the mythos. It also adds new volumes to the Lovecraftian library, most notably The Revelations of Glaaki. The stories are typical of the mythos, dense, moody tales which move toward an inevitable confrontation with the unfathomable.

PS Publishing's version features the author's preferred subtitle, substituting "and other Unwelcome Tenants" for the original "and Less Welcome Tenants." Much like recent reissues from certain legendary rock bands it features some welcome bells and whistles. First, there are the original, unedited drafts of Campbell's stories, a special extra for Campbell completists.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Charlatans, take note! 21 April 2014
Another dose of Campbell's jet-black humour here. The writer shows more than a little contempt for those that like to benefit from other people's vulnerability and grief. This is something which has always riled me and its damaging effects are analysed in this novel in a way that is in turns funny, disturbing, thrilling, and moving.

As with his other more recent novels, comedy of paranoia is the name of the game. Our protagonist, Graham Wilde, is driven to distraction (and not just that) by a particularly unorthodox "psychic" antagonist. I say unorthodox as he is so insidiously and passively damaging - by manipulating the emotions of not just his audiences but, by appearing on various public mediums (and on Wilde's own radio programme), also the general public. Our wiley Wilde is caught up in a Kafka-esque Manchester, surrounded by inescapable persecution. Of course, this only escalates to further horrors.

To say any more would be to give away too much. There is some excellent plotting here as well as Campbell's usual flare for Hitchock-influenced suspense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Creeping Menace and literary sleight of hand 12 Jan 2014
Ramsey Campbell's fiction is not for those who like their thrills served up in a conventional manner. Although cleanly pared down, his prose is complex and suggestive, requiring keen attention to earn its copious rewards. But once it all clicks into place, there really is no equal. Reading Campbell as his best -- and in his later work (including Ghost Knows), that's what he often is -- is an experience and not just a quick reading diversion. His stories commonly involve meandering plots where nothing is quite what it seems. In Ghosts Knows, Campbell draws upon almost Hitchcockian pacing skills developed in fine, earlier crime novels (The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Last Voice They Hear) and serves up some seriously troubling and, ahem, eye-wateringly dark delights. You'll see. Another fine contribution to a branch of the genre that is almost the exclusive domain of Ramsey Campbell.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Creeping menace and literary sleight of hand 12 Jan 2014
By Gary Fry - Published on Amazon.com
Ramsey Campbell's fiction is not for those who like their thrills served up in a conventional manner. Although cleanly pared down, his prose is complex and suggestive, requiring keen attention to earn its copious rewards. But once it all clicks into place, there really is no equal. Reading Campbell as his best -- and in his later work (including Ghost Knows), that's what he often is -- is an experience and not just a quick reading diversion. His stories commonly involve meandering plots where nothing is quite what it seems. In Ghosts Knows, Campbell draws upon almost Hitchcockian pacing skills developed in fine, earlier crime novels (The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Last Voice They Hear) and serves up some seriously troubling and, ahem, eye-wateringly dark delights. You'll see. Another fine contribution to a branch of the genre that is almost the exclusive domain of Ramsey Campbell.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dual review of The Inhabitant of the Lake and Ghosts Know 27 Mar 2012
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Having the chance to read Campbell's early work, the Lovecraft/Derleth influenced short story collection The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants (hereafter The Inhabitant) , and his latest novel, Ghosts Know, is worthwhile and illuminating, providing a riveting reminder of his innate talent, simultaneously showing how far he has come in terms of subject matter and in honing his craft.

The Inhabitant is a small revelation, showcasing an emerging talent, one who is finding his way through almost slavish emulation of what he no doubt considered a superior talent at the time. It's his first collection, presenting some of his earliest work, ably edited by August Derleth, and published by the estimable Arkham House. A collection of ten Cthulhu Mythos stories, featuring tales with titles like "The Horror from the Bridge," "The Insects from Shaggai," and "The Render of the Veils," its most notable achievement is adding the UK as Lovecraftian terrain; at Derleth's suggestion, Campbell revised many of his original efforts, originally set in the New England, adding the cities of Brichester, Goatswood, and Clotton and the Severn Valley region to the mythos. It also adds new volumes to the Lovecraftian library, most notably The Revelations of Glaaki. The stories are typical of the mythos, dense, moody tales which move toward an inevitable confrontation with the unfathomable.

PS Publishing's version features the author's preferred subtitle, substituting "and other Unwelcome Tenants" for the original "and Less Welcome Tenants." Much like recent reissues from certain legendary rock bands it features some welcome bells and whistles. First, there are the original, unedited drafts of Campbell's stories, a special extra for Campbell completists. Another welcome inclusion are several letters from Derleth to the young Campbell, detailing the advice he provided and highlighting the depth of attention the veteran editor lavished on the fledgling writer. All in all, a very nice package, showcasing the early work of one of the genre's brightest lights.

Fast forward now from 1964 to 2011, where we find Campbell having published his (by my count) thirty second novel, Ghosts Know. The first thing you notice is Campbell's economy with words. Ghosts Know is tightly written, with Campbell making every word count. Besides forsaking wordiness, Campbell has developed his own voice, no longer content to echo/emulate one his Weird Tales heroes. The story is also exceedingly modern, focusing on the travails of a talk radio personality who becomes embroiled in a missing persons case that threatens to torpedo his career.

Although it prominently features a showman who purports to speak for the dead, the novel is decidedly non-supernatural, more of a mystery-thriller, where the narrator, Graham Wilde, may ultimately prove to be unreliable. In fact, the point of the novel is just how unreliable he may be, either due to the pressure of the situation he finds himself in, or due to his very nature.

Wilde is the contentious, bombastic host of the talk radio program called "Wilde Card." His job, as he sees it, is to stir the pot, and he is quite good at it, provoking many a heated call with his eccentric and often irrational audience. At the behest of his producers, he considers inviting Frank Jasper, a purported psychic with a stage act similar to that of John Edward, on the program. Researching Jasper, he takes in the medium's stage show, where he swiftly concludes the man is a charlatan, albeit a talented one. When Jasper appears on his show, Wilde draws upon personal knowledge about the man to embarrass him on air, using patter similar to that which Jasper utilizes in his act.

Wilde's perceived attack on Jasper earns him the enmity of his guest and some of the members of his audience. He next encounters Jasper when the psychic is hired by the family of a missing adolescent girl to help them find her; Graham is stunned when Jasper seems to suggest that he might be behind the girl's disappearance. Thus begins a nightmarish journey for Wilde as circumstantial evidence against him begins to mount, alienating his lover, his listeners, and eventually, the reader.

Campbell sows the seeds of doubt like an expert, first creating a strong bond between Wilde and readers, and then, slowly, insidiously, and relentlessly breaking it down. The book reeks of paranoia and uncertainty, right down to its very last pages, which promptly turn all prior assumptions and evidence on their head. Campbell seems to delight in creating this atmosphere of doubt, where coincidences and contradictions begin to mount so fast readers are forced to check prior chapters just to make sure they just vicariously lived through the same events. Every word has weight, but every statement can be taken more than one way.

It's gratifying to see that the talented eighteen year old short story writer of nineteen sixty four has become the accomplished novelist of 2011. As evidenced by his erudition, the consistent high level of craft displayed in his work, and the numerous genre awards he's snagged over the past several decades, the kid is all right.
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