The Ghost

December 20, 2007

Written by Robert Harris

Read by Robert Glenister 

Published by Random House Audio

Price: £16.99 

This is a belter of a thriller from the off. The “Ghost” of the title, whose name we are never told, has been drafted in to finish off the memoirs of Adam Lang, a former British Labour prime minister after his predecessor, a long-standing political aide, is found drowned in an apparent suicide. Our ghost doesn’t know anything about politics, a trait he flags up when pitching for the job. He’s much better known for his celebrity biographies.

I laughed out loud when, going through the metal detectors to get to the interview he asks, “Who’re you expecting to bomb you? Random House?”

Rumours abound, of course, that The Ghost, is based on Tony Blair, his wife Cherie, and the former Prime Minister’s loyal “gatekeeper” Anji Hunter. Robert Harris knows the Blairs really well, so I do wonder how much truth lies in the characters of Adam and Ruth Lang.

The thing that gripped me most about this thriller is the real questions it raised surrounding British politics. Who was it controlling our puppet prime minister; who persuaded him that it was a good idea to tuck his tail between his legs and cower down to American interests at the expense of our own? WHAT IF THIS BOOK WERE TRUE?

The ghostwriter (who narrates the story) and Adam Lang are ensconced in his publisher’s luxury compound on Martha’s Vineyard to rewrite the memoir started by his predecessor.

Adam Lang is a gifted communicator and former actor, a trait that Robert Glenister cleverly picks up on embellishing Lang’s teeth grating over familiarity with the ghost and his aide, Amelia Bly. His beautiful and bristly wife is intelligent (and very suspicious of Lang’s relationship with Bly) and extremely politically astute.

In the meantime, Richard Rycart, the former Foreign Secretary sacked by Lang and now working as a UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs, accuses his former boss of involvement in war crimes and for facilitating a CIA snatch and the subsequent torture of four British citizens.

The plot is steeped with eyebrow raising twists. I whole heartedly recommend this for both Harris’s clincher of a tale, and Glenister’s storytelling!

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