Synopsis: Bank robbery gone wrong. A “fixer” type, called Ghostman, is sent in by the crime boss behind it to clean things up. Another crime boss gets involved. High jinx ensue.
Commentary: I was originally drawn to this book because, in most cases, it takes a really fascinating backstory on the author to get me to read fiction. In this case: brilliant college student pens a griping thriller. Sky’s the limit and all that. Plus, I’m jealous of his skills.
Despite his very-fake name, Roger Hobbs, he put together a tightly spun yarn about the aftermath of a heist-gone-wrong. The pace is “page-turning” and chapters are episodic and short. The book flashes back occasionally to the protagonist’s early days as a thief and “ghost man”-in training. A “ghost” is someone who alters their appearance and persona in extreme ways to get out of tight spots; essentially running around as alter egos. The prose is serviceable but descriptions skirt the edge of high school creative writing class level. Hobbs tries to shock us with gritty, visceral details and dazzle with an insider’s view of criminal activity. But, mostly, it feels like he’s trying to impress us with his dark anti-hero by making him interesting rather than make us feel something about him. I mean, the Ghostman spends a great deal of the book as fake characters. It’s not like Lisbeth Salander, where we are painted a revealing picture of the most fascinating fictional underworld geniuses in so much detail and thorough backstory. I really wanted this Ghostman to be a bad-ass but, he was so undeveloped, I only saw smoke and mirrors.
Finally, (and, I know this is trivial) I was off-put by his naming one of the mob boss characters “the Wolf.” I immediately thought of another “fixer” character in fiction lore, that of Harvey Keitel's Winston "the Wolf" Wolfe from Pulp Fiction. Whether it was unintentional or not, I found it a little lazy. Keep going, Hobbs. You’re a good writer but I have a feeling your best work is ahead of you.