Summary and book reviews of The Ghost by Robert Harris

The Ghost

By Robert Harris

The Ghost
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 2007,
    335 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2008,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the bestselling author of Fatherland and Imperium comes The Ghost, an extraordinarily auspicious thriller of power, politics, corruption, and murder. Dashing, captivating Adam Lang was Britain's longest serving -- and most controversial -- prime minister of the last half century, whose career ended in tatters after he sided with America in an unpopular war on terror. Now, after stepping down in disgrace, Lang is hiding out in wintry Martha's Vineyard to finish his much sought-after, potentially explosive memoir, for which he accepted one of history's largest cash advances. But the project runs aground when his ghostwriter suddenly and mysteriously disappears and later washes up, dead, on the island's deserted shore.

Enter our hero -- Lang's new ghostwriter -- cynical, mercenary, and quick with a line of deadpan humor. Accustomed to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities, he jumps at the chance to be the new ghost of Adam Lang's memoirs, especially as it means a big payday. At once he flies to Lang's remote location in America to finish the book in the seclusion of a luxurious estate, but it doesn't take him long to realize he has made a fatal error in judgment.

The state of affairs is grim enough when the ghost begins to unearth the bone-chilling circumstances of his predecessor's death. And before long, he discovers that the ex-prime minister is not just a charismatic politician who made a few mistakes. He's a dark, tortured man with haunting secrets in his past -- secrets with the power to alter world politics. Secrets with the power to kill.

Robert Harris is known the world over as a master of his trade. The Ghost is yet another signature, brilliant tour de force that will compel, captivate, and excite readers to the very last shocking page.

ONE

Of all the advantages that ghosting offers, one of the
greatest must be the opportunity that you get to meet
people of interest.
Andrew Crofts,
Ghostwriting

THE MOMENT I HEARD how McAra died, I should have walked away. I can see that now. I should have said, "Rick, I'm sorry, this isn't for me, I don't like the sound of it," finished my drink, and left. But he was such a good storyteller, Rick -- I often thought he should have been the writer and I the literary agent -- that once he'd started talking there was never any question I wouldn't listen, and by the time he had finished, I was hooked.

The story, as Rick told it to me over lunch that day, went like this: McAra had caught the last ferry from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to Martha's Vineyard two Sundays earlier. I worked out afterward it must have been January the twelfth. It was touch-and-go whether the ferry would sail at all. A gale had been blowing since midafternoon and the last few crossings had...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

The story, set in the modern age of terrorism, is slow-paced, yet learning along with the narrator piques our interest, and Harris's simple yet engaging prose marked with occasional wry humor keeps things moving along. Still, it's not until the final third of the book that the pace really picks up. There are only a couple of major plot twists, and they're almost predictable for those of us who are paying close attention.   (Reviewed by Lisa A. Goldstein).

Full Review Members Only (724 words).

Media Reviews
The Times - Rod Liddle

This, then, is the plot of the ghost’s thriller. Who was it controlling our husk of a prime minister; who persuaded him that it was a good idea to serve American interests at the expense of our own and receive – as the waspish former foreign secretary points out – nothing whatsoever in return, ever? Harris handles it all with some elan and subtlety, if you’re a fan of the genre.

Scotland on Sunday

Harris has such renown as a thriller writer it can be easy to forget his earlier life at the heart of the political establishment. He is a friend of Peter Mandelson and a former political editor of the Observer who was an enthusiast for Blair's New Labour project as it came together to sweep away a generation of Conservative rule in 1997. Ten years on, Harris writes with all the venom of a disappointed lover .... The Ghost allows Harris to take his revenge, to give people he hates their comeuppance.

Daily Telegraph - Nicholas Blincoe

Robert Harris's latest thriller is more than a fun read: it is a super-duper, double fun bag-sized read thanks to his masterful plotting. No, not the story of a ghostwriter caught within the machinations of politician-spies, although Harris handles the espionage element very well ..... The larger question, though, is: does the novel work? It is absolutely splendid fun in its peculiar and deviously intertextual way. The bed-hopping aside, Cherie Blair feels especially well captured (even if one wonders quite why Harris dislikes her so much).

The Guardian - Colin Greenland

While the novel owes its existence, its composition in, apparently, five white-hot months, to Harris's anger at Blair and his administration, the fierce heart of the plot - the great revelation, and the crucial twist in the tail of it - are an imaginative impertinence, an accusation no one could make or take literally. The Ghost is, finally, not about Blair; though it remains an indictment of everything he did and stood for. It's also, and most vitally, intelligent, perceptive and enormous fun.

Publishers Weekly

Harris nicely leavens his cynical tale with gallows humor, and even readers who anticipate the plot’s final twist will admire the author’s artistry in creating an intelligent page-turner that tackles serious issues.

The New York Times - Jonathan Freedland

The plot is unfussy and perhaps too linear for those thriller readers fond of pyrotechnics, but it unfolds with clarity and panache—and with a classy twist on the very last page. Unusually for the genre, the novel is also nicely lubricated with humor.

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

Harris has managed to write a superior entertainment that is also an angry portrait of today's political reality.

Reader Reviews
Beverly, California

The Ghost by Robert Harris
I was stunned to see this book's rating. It is one of the best books I have read in months. The writing is deceptively simple and deft....similar to Graham Greene's style. The "Ghost" is an English ghostwriter of "has-been" celebrity biographies...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Did you know?

  • Mirroring Adam Lang, Tony Blair stepped down as Prime Minister of the UK in June 2007. One of the hallmarks of his decade-long term was his close relationship with the United States. His decision to ally with the U.S. to fight terrorism cost him politically.

  • In 2007, Blair sold his memoir for an advance of £5 million (~$10m). In The Ghost, Adam Lang is given $10 million. Talk about a case of life imitating art! Blair's book ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Ghost, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.