“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
If you can’t reach heaven, raise hell.”
Why do we love action heroes who can take down a giant of a man, brush through
firepower without a wink of blood, and still outsmart the villain with an IQ of 165? Why is it that we like the brilliant, the people that are way better than ourselves? How can we connect to them? I mean, we aren’t anything amazing when we get down to it.
We’re all different, which makes us all the same.
So why do we love these larger than life protagonists? Literary fiction likes to hone in on the lesser folk, ‘cause the amazing kick-ass wonders are overused, unlike us, and all that tripe. Blame Ian Fleming. Blame Richard Stark. Blame Batman.
I don’t care, because this is exactly the kind of guy Jack is. An effing amazing ghostman, a guy who disappears for a living, a guy who can kick butt and still outwit both of the guys playing him. He’s a fun enigma. He’s a thriller of a character. Oh, and did I mention he likes to translate the classics? And started reading Latin when he was twelve? That may sound off-putting, but don’t listen. It’s handled well.
If you didn’t notice by now, the pacing is off the roof. Short chapters barrel you along, throwing out a suspenseful mystery at the end of every three pages or so. Add in a flashback to the heist that went wrong, and you have some backstory. Not character development, have you. No, Jack is a gray character, a blur. And this was probably intentional.
But I don’t care.
Written in first person, you feel his smart-aleck attitude and wise-cracks every minute. That’s got to be a personality, right? Well, throw in the common “I don’t like to kill” mantra, and viola. A shred of humanity.
Ghostman opens hard and ends the same, dark and grit and surprisingly mellow. Don’t know how the three mix? Well, Hobbs does. And he manages this minimal detail throughout. Not minimalistic; more of shredding down the unnecessary words to advance the pacing. He gives you the bare minimum to understand. And doesn’t repeat big words, (like minimal) jarring the narrative, and so forth.
It’s a rollicking read, a thriller through and through with a twinge of noir to sate my appetite. This is an intelligent plot, a breath of fresh air in the usual mystery stories that blow up publishers day by day. All this from a debut author as well. I’m just hoping Hobbs’s talent doesn’t do like his protagonist and disappear on us one random night.