Top positive review
Spirit of Adventure
on 13 December 2011
I have to admit that I felt Ghosts of Manhattan, Mann's first foray into the roaring twenties, was not his finest work. The protagonist and the setting were intriguing, but the storyline seemed rushed and slightly disjointed. However, I was more than willing to give the usually reliable author another chance, and I'm glad I did, because this second installment is an improvement in every way.
This book sees the return of the Ghost, rocket-booted vigilante and alter ego of playboy Gabriel Cross. Only a month after the tragic events of the first book, he's struggling with both self-doubt and a series of new threats to his beloved city.
This time around the menaces include a mysterious flock of robotic 'raptors' intent on abducting hapless New Yorkers, a sinister conspiracy that may mean a catastrophic war with Britain, and another interdimensional monstrosity that may be only the first of its kind... As if all this wasn't enough, Gabriel has to deal with the sudden return of an old flame. And what's the deal with the huge pair of eyes he keeps seeing up in the sky?
Happily the more Lovecraftian elements of the plot are more elegantly woven into the story this time, and further flashbacks to Gabriel's wartime days fill in more of his backstory. It goes without saying that the book is packed with Mann's trademark action setpieces, from the opening rooftop battle to a thrilling biplane/airship dogfight towards the end.
However, it's the author's growing facility with his characters that really shines. You really feel Gabriel's tormented questioning of his purpose and true self, as well as his ally Felix's dedication and guilt as he tries to balance his work with his home life.
This book left me eager to see what Mann has planned for his haunted vigilante next. If the next installment shows as much improvement as this one, it should be something very special indeed.