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Ghosts of Manhattan Paperback – 3 May 2010

2.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: snowbooks (3 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906727163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906727161
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 727,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Mann is at the forefront of the new generation of UK genre movers and shakers.' 'The author does a superb job of recreating nineteenth century London...a thoroughly engaging story.' SF Signal 'Mann is leading the charge.' The Guardian 'Fans of Alan Moore's work will likely enjoy Mann's depiction of Victorian asylums, slums, aristocratic soirees and things that go bump in the night.' Strange Horizons 'A carefully plotted and entertaining steampunk mystery.' '[Mann] has a sharp talent for writing and a surplus of enthusiasm for the genre' Sci Fi Now 'Highly, highly recommended'

About the Author

George Mann is the Consultant Editor of Solaris Books, the major SF/Fantasy imprint of BL Publishing/Games Workshop. He is the editor of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy and the author of The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Constable Robinson), The Human Abstract (Telos), The Severed Man (Telos) and The Child of Time (Telos, with David J. Howe). His short stories have appeared or are due to appear in venues such as Black Sails, Apex Digest, Triquorum and an anthology of Doctor Who stories. He regularly attends the major science fiction and fantasy conventions in both the UK and the US. He lives near Grantham with his wife and son.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having thouroughly enjoyed Mann's other recent series - the Newbury & Hobbes Mysteries, I was looking forward to this new book. The Newbury & Hobbes stories have been fun-filled, quirky mysteries, instilled with good banter between characters and a real sense of humour. They don't take themselves too seriously and they are fun to read. I've also enjoyed the setting in those books - a slightly alternative Victorian London.

Ghosts of Manhattan is a different kind of read. Set in a 1920's New York of mobsters, killings and crimes it follows a few main characters. Donovan: the police inspector, Gabriel: the rich playboy, Celeste: the jazz singing love interest, The Ghost: a mysterious vigilante, The Roman: a criminal mobster overlord. It's all quite cliched with all these characters behaving predictably.

The main idea that jumped out at me was 'Batman'. The set up, plot, etc puts you in mind of Gotham City and the caped crusader. This unfortunately means that the idea doesn't feel new or fresh. However, as with other George Mann books, the pace is brisk, the writing fun and it is an old fashioned type of crime thriller.

I hung in there with it, enjoying some of the scenes and atmosphere created by the setting but have to say that it took a really odd twist towards the end - a supernatural element was introduced which really didn't follow what had gone before and made for a totally bizarre ending. I also can't review this thoroughly without a mention of the total overuse of the word 'brandished' throughout!

I am quite sorry to say that I found this book disappointing because I've so enjoyed his other books. I am still looking forward to enjoying the next Newbury & Hobbes mystery though!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the idea of a retro story about a 1930s pulp “mystery man”. Despite the lacklustre writing and glacial plot I ploughed on in the hope it would eventually improve. Spoiler: It doesn't.

The fantasy world-building is lazy.

The setting is a post-steampunk early twentieth century. This is dumped in an inconsistent clutter of off-the-shelf tropes. Steam-powered cars co-exist with valve-driven electrical gear and other retro high technology. None of it makes sense. Home holographic video communication is standard and the hero’s hat has a miniature, telescopic heads-up display, but they don’t have mobile phones. Magical steampunk-power has been harnessed for domestic electricity, but the cars still run on coal and water.

The prose is leaden and lacks any charm or pulp energy.

There's an infrequent use of profanity that feels bolted-on in an attempt to prove that despite the poor world-building and thin characterisation this isn't actually Young Adult fiction.

The storytelling is worse. There are giant structural problems.

For almost half the book the story rotates between apparently independent points of view of a Manhattan cop, a rich playboy and the Ghost. All three are completely ineffectual. The playboy drinks and flashes back to The War. The Ghost and the cop take turns to be beaten up and outwitted by the villain's henchmen ends with literally monotonous regularity. Each loop resets the plot back to square one, so there's no real narrative.

Pulp and comic book tradition dictates that the hero, the Ghost, and the villain, the Roman, have dark histories and secret identities. The alter egos must be a mystery in the fictional world, but how much the reader knows is in the author’s hands.
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Format: Paperback
I had high hopes of this novel, since the blurb ticked all the boxes. Unfortunately it's a grave disappointment. The characters are all cardboard, there's very little depth to them and the plot - such as it is - is wafer thin. The 'steampunk' element is limited to cars that run on coal and a weapon; that's it. The alternative universe element is limited to a few references to a cold war between the UK and the US, but that's all - there's no relevance to the storyline.

The further into the book you read, the more nonsensical it becomes. There are 'moss men' who are supposed to be hugely powerful, except that they're not, and are made of moss with a steel substruction. If it sounds weird, it's because it is. In the last few chapters there's a dramatic shift from steampunk to Cthulhu, which is just plain stupid. The book that you finish isn't remotely like the book that you started.

It's a waste of time and space. One to be avoided I'm afraid - I wish that I had.
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Format: Paperback
I hadn't read any of Mr Mann's previous work, and on the evidence of this book, I won't be reading any more.

"Homage" is significantly overstating what is quite possibly the most cliche-ridden piece of work I've ever read.

There is nothing new in this book. I mean, absolutely nothing. I am an avid reader of many books and on many subjects, and this is the most disappointing reading experience I've ever had.

Everything about character, location, or plot is something that you will have read somewhere else, on many occasions, and done better.

And "steampunk"? I'd laugh if I wasn't so offended by the notion that this tries to place itself in the genre. It diminishes it instead.

Fans of steampunk will feel short-changed to the point of having been mugged.

Characters and locations are so two-dimensional as to make you hope that there's some sort of plot point waiting to make an appearance, that somehow the author has crafted this lack of depth deliberately. But oh no, this is not so.

This is the first book that actually made me feel angry about its lack of ambition on any level.

This is the first book that I have ever had to throw in the bin, lest someone else try to read it.
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