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on 4 July 2015
Book in excellent condition, but I struggled to finish it
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on 5 November 2015
Good/ ok still his best is Pompeii fatherland or imperium
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on 10 July 2008
Having heard this book recommended on BBC Radio 4 "A Good Read" as a thriller and looking forward to reading something really gripping, I was a little disappointed. I certainly enjoyed reading it, taking just 2 days to do so, but it didn't thrill, although it did entertain. Read it if you fancy an unchallenging diversion for a weekend.
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on 14 September 2014
I couldn't put it down. Excellent Robert Harris
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on 28 October 2007
The Ghost is a fantastic thriller in its own right. I love Robert Harris' style - no pretentions towards symbolism, or higher meanings, or other such pretentious literary froth, just neat, uncluttered prose that drives the story effortlessly forward. It's this that makes his books such compulsive reading.

The central figure of the story is a ghost-writer who has been given a juicy commission - and the promise of an even juicier cheque - to work on the memoirs of the United Kingdom's former prime minister, Adam Lang. It transpires that 'the ghost' is a replacement for another writer, one of the PM's former ministers, who was washed up dead following his drowning under suspicious circumstances. The ghost's curiosity - which is of cat-killing proportions - draws him to investigate his predecessor's demise, and so the scene is set for the mystery. It has to be noted that the characters of Adam and Ruth Lang are so similar to Tony and Cherie Blair - complete with matching balls-up in Iraq - that I'm surprised that the author didn't get himself into no small amount of legal trouble!

If this will be your first Robert Harris book, then you should thoroughly enjoy it. However, don't miss out on Fatherland, which is probably his finest novel. No other writer I've read can match the fatalistic sense of build-up as the denouement is reached at the end of The Ghost, where the threads of the mystery come together to reveal the dirty truth at the top of the pile. That said, having read all of the author's other novels, I was left with a distinct sense of deja vu.

So - another Robert Harris book, another unlikely hero chasing a paper-trail which reveals corruption and conspiracy at the highest level of government. That last sentence could just as easily be a synopsis of Fatherland, Pompeii, Enigma or Archangel. Each of these books is a wonderful piece of novel-writing in its own right, but Mr. Harris needs to take a well-overdue departure from this theme for future works. Simply changing the scenario each time will not do. Imperium was a step in the right direction, and shows this is not beyond the author.
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on 6 May 2008
I believed in the worlds I was being shown - politics, publishing - and in the characters populating them. I was totally gripped by the plot (which is well outlined in other reviews...), and found the final twists immensely satisfying.
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on 13 December 2011
Everyone must be aware of what went on after Tony Blair went - I'm not a fan of his - or politics in general - but this book gives you just a little peek inside - it is so well written that I almost have the film of it inside my head.
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VINE VOICEon 13 October 2007
I love Robert Harris' books, with my top favourites being Archangel and Imperium and Fatherland, and I was thrilled when I heard about this book, and rushed out to buy it. The combination of gripping prose, suspense, meticulously-researched and built-up background and intelligent characterisation is usually at the heart of Harris' thrillers, and also that touch of 'what if' alternative history/parallel world which adds extra imaginative spice. But though The Ghost is told in his usual smooth and compelling prose, it is a terrible disappointment. At every level, it reads more like an implausible B-grade conspiracy theory film script than a taut, intelligent Harris thriller, and it's so riddled with plot holes and laughable coincidences and events that it's not only difficult to suspend your disbelief, it's basically impossible. It also reads like a personal fantasy of the most embarassing kind, full of spite and yet also perfunctory and lame.
The problem starts with 'the ghost' himself--the ghostwriter whose name we are never told(sometimes in situations where such an omission just beggars belief), who is shadowy though it's his narrative voice we're hearing, and whose character is never really built up(bar a on-off cartoon-character girlfriend called Kate), so inevitably in the reader's mind he becomes conflated with the author himself. I suppose he might be intended to be a quasi-mythological figure, the accusing 'ghost at the feast' type, like Banquo's ghost accusing Macbeth of murder or something. For Macbeth here read Adam Lang, the recently-retired British PM whose memoirs the ghost is meant to be writing, and who bears more than a passing ressemblance to Tony Blair, that is Blair in the fevered imaginations of Blair-haters who characterise him as an American stooge, a combination of dictator and poodle.
That leads us to the next problem--the plot of the novel revolves around several revelations which you can see coming a mile off, given the huge red markers along the way: even the final, ridiculous twist. Then we're told again and again how the baddies are so good at surveillance, how they know everything that goes on, how ruthless they are, yet our ghost writer manages to get away from them with great ease, and they seem unable to stop him contacting the other side. Plus, the central clue to the final twist, contained in a rather schoolboy code, should have been cracked by the baddies yonks ago, given their skill with such things, and yet it isn't. Even by the standards of inept B grade conspiracy films, this is really stretching the reader's credulity. There's a sense of haste, too, of perfunctory sticking in of incidents, and no real confrontation with danger, that makes the action seem flat. Then the conspiracy theory at the heart of the plot is so ludricrous that at every turn you expect the author to undermine it, to say, ha ha, only joking! But no, it's not undermined at all, the whole way, even right to the end. The thing is meant to be taken seriously!
The novel also happens in an odd kind of vaccuum. We're meant to believe both that Adam Lang IS a kind of shadow version of Blair AND that he isn't at all, just an imaginative construct. But unlike say the machiavellian Francis Urquart in Michael Dobbs' brilliant House of Cards, you just never really get a sense of the man as a real character, just as a kind of puppet, which of course suits the author's purpose to some degree but also shows up the hollowness of his conceit, and puts off the reader. You don't get a sense of his background--of Britain itself, of the government after Lang, of anything really except a kind of caricature of a shadow. And this destroys the sense of a real political thriller, of that feeling of high stakes that would keep us personally involved.
Harris was once a political correspondent of some distinction and he is clearly familiar with how power works, at least as far as his other novels are concerned, but in this one, you don't get a sense of insider knowledge at all, just an embarassing ineptness and paranoid imagining of what being a British PM actually entails. In this world, the party, Parliament, the administration, the media, the people, the whole complicated rough and tumble of political life just doesn't exist. It's as if it was written by someone whose sole knowledge of politics is limited to surfing conspiracy sites on the Web. And the central revelations are completely cheapened and weakened by this. They are simply ridiculous in the context of a real political system.
On the plus side, there's a good pace to the book, and the prose is smooth as silk, as always. I did read it to the end, hoping against hope that the author would pull off a good, satisfying ending which would put paid to my doubts about plot character etc. Sadly, I was disappointed. And bitterly so, for after that final twist, the whole thing just degenerates into facile bathos.
Harris is engaged on a trilogy of Roman political life, which began with the fantastic Imperium. I wish he hadn't interrupted his writing of that to give us this embarrassing effusion. It should have stayed in his bottom drawer.
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on 29 December 2012
This book is not up to Robert Harris' other books. It is pedestrian, fairly predictable and generally quite boring. I notice there is a DVD of the story, I certainly won't be watching it.
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on 24 June 2016
Typical Rober Harris, always a good read
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