This self-assured first novel is a psychological thriller centred around a film critic called Dorian Cook. The book fluctuates between 12-year-old Dorian in the steamy days of 1976 and present-day disillusioned failing film-critic Dorian. Into his current miserable life a threat from the past slowly wrecks havoc on his life and on the lives of his childhood friends.
In this tightly constructed novel, the story simmers throughout, the tension tangible but not glaringly obvious at the start. This slow-burner effect is highly effective for the most part, especially when serious plot twists are revealed with disarming execution. If you are looking for a constant fast-paced book this might not be for you as Andrew Lowe takes time to create detailed characters and settings.
The summer of 1976 is brilliantly captured and as a young child in the 70s I could easily relate to the mood and atmosphere of the time. Likewise the brooding cynicism of current day film journalism seems utterly plausible and this should come as no surprise as some of the settings and situations are, according to the writer, semi-autobiographical.
The main character Dorian Cook is a flawed and unsympathetic character and even when he is a child I could feel nothing but disdain for him and his friends who are portrayed in equally uncompromising terms. Having said that they are well written, sketched in fine detail through ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’ and as the book progressed I became accustomed not to having to support or identify with any one specific character in the book.
The one aspect of the book that I struggled with to start with was its slow pace and progression of the story, however I quickly understood that this was deliberate and central element to the novel. In the midst of the ordinary, the extraordinarily unnervingly unfolds, with the horrific quietly introduced in between the banality of life. On numerous occasions this would cause me to stop and reread a paragraph to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood exactly what was happening. At times I felt myself bordering on confusion before I was pulled onto the road of shocked comprehension.
I cannot say too much about the story line of the book as this would easily reveal too much, however the boys as young play a prank on a fellow school pupil, I hesitate to use the word friend. A prank that goes wrong and now reconnects the three friends as the consequences of that day return to haunt them.
‘The Ghost’ is an unusual book, not your run by the mill thriller and not at all what I expected. It’s very well-written and it delivers on character, setting and plot, with the tension mounting incrementally. Every time I went to put the book aside I felt that ‘just one more chapter’ tug.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Publish Date: 28th June 2015 – ie. now available!
Paperback Price: £ 9.99 (amazon quoted prices)
Kindle Price: £ 1.99 (amazon quoted prices)
‘We need a full inner well to write from. Sometimes life empties the well. That’s not failure, or the end. It’s a promise that there will be something new to write about when the well is refilled.’
by Rachel Mack
Painting Courtesy of M. Ivarson