Saturday, February 13, 2010

Robert Harris: Ghost

Mr Bani borrowed this thriller, probably because he'd heard of it being filmed, which always tends to make him interested in reading a book first. So he said it was quite entertaining, so I read it too. And it is that. Up to a point.

The book is about a ghost writer, a writer creates moving autobiographies out of monotonous half-phrases uttered by semi-forgotten football players, musicians and actors. He gets recruited to write the memoirs of the former PM of Britain  for an exorbitant sum of money. A manuscript already exists, but the previous ghost writer, who was a member of the PMs staff, died suddenly and there is no-one to finish it. Our man takes the job, even though the deadline is a month. While he is there at Martha's Vineyard writing away, the former  foreign secretary has the former PM indicted at the International Tribunal of War Crimes for his involvement in the "war against terror". (I don't remember the names at the moment, we've returned the book.)

From here on it becomes so-so. The former PM is a thinly veiled Blair. His dominant wife - is this a faithful Cherie? The foreign secretary - Robin Cook? Everything becomes so obviously an angry rant at how the UK did whatever the US wanted. Which maybe has its place, it's just not terrific as a book, as a thriller. It becomes the usual tired conspiracy theory, with the CIA everywhere and no-one safe and "they can get you at any time".

The ghost writer himself is equipped with a sardonic sense of humour, so it's not an unfunny book. Like I said, entertaining. Good travel reading. But not really a great thriller.

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