Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Ghost Writer-Robert Harris

The Ghost Writer
Robert Harris
Gallery (Pocket), Mar 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781439190555

Rhinehart Inc has paid former British Prime Minister Adam Lang a fortune to write his memoirs especially focusing on his war against terrorism; the project comes to a screeching halt when the ghostwriter Michael McAra dies in an apparent suicide. To bring the book back in on schedule, they hire a new ghostwriter who agrees to do the job in four weeks for a sizable fee.

He travels from London to the Rhinehart Estate on Martha's Vineyard to write the autobiography. While in residence, he notices a lot of undercurrents including Lang's wife Ruth behaving very antagonistically towards her spouse's beautiful assistant. The book in its present form is a disaster, but the ghostwriter believes he can extract some spice out of the dry passages to insure a bestseller. A sordid scandal breaks involving Lang who supposedly ordered the SAS to kidnap suspected terrorists in Pakistan to rendition them to the CIA for torture. Since the new British government refuses to investigate, the International Criminal Court of the Hague starts it own inquiries. Although he has zero interest in politics, the Ghostwriter conducts an investigation only to find secrets that could lead to his death if he is lucky or worse.

This is an enthralling political thriller that is totally frightening because Robert Harris makes his basic premise believable. There are many shocks to readers especially those who refuse to believe our side, the so called good guys, would resort to some of the tools of the trade. Almost as stunning is the dysfunctional inner circle that surrounds the former PM as everyone has an agenda to insure they look good in the autobiography. The Ghost Writer is a fascinating character as he knows no one is innocent, but needs to now who is the great puppeteer manipulating everyone even him. Mr. Harris, author of FATHERLAND, has written a chilling, plausible and enthralling tale.

Harriet Klausner

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