Dec 26, 10
Read from May 11 to 14, 2010
'Ghost of Manhattan' is George Mann's melding of the pulp genre with that of steampunk. Set in an America embroiled in a cold war with the British Empire, it is a world of coal-powered cars, bi-planes taking off from building tops on rockets, of mobsters and of....The Ghost.
The book centres on the vigilante 'The Ghost' and his attempts to thwart the schemes of the insidious mob boss known as 'The Roman'. Armed with a plethora of customised weaponry, he sets out each night to tackle the criminal element with his particular brand of severe justice. The character is great fun, paying tribute to crime fighters such as Batman, The Spirit and, most of all, The Spider (just look at the character's costume). The loner is soon helped in his mission by honest-cop Detective Donovan, also on a mission against The Roman, for his life depends on it.
Mann really deserves commending for paying homage to the pulp genre without succumbing to much of the now-clichéd dialog that has become synonymous with the pulps. The action is taught, energetic and engaging, often brutal, and downright exciting. The Ghost is also a character that holds your interest to the last page, serving as a excellent catalyst for the story. Credit is also due to the character of Donovan. Mann manages to create someone who gives the reader a more 'everyman' viewpoint to the events that are occurring, so as not to detach the reader from the sense of reality he is trying to create.
The only thing that really brings down my score is the conclusion to the story. For all the frenetic pacing of many parts, the ending seems less energetic and more rushed. One particular aspect in which a main characters' purpose is revealed seems somewhat convoluted and just didn't sit well with me. Very important details are revealed in a matter of a few pages and the final confrontation is over all-too-sudden.
But, putting these criticisms aside, 'Ghosts of Manhattan' is still a very enjoyable book, and the boundless energy that George Mann imbues his work with should be lauded, and I for one greatly admire it. And, best of all, he has created in The Ghost a character I definitely want to learn more about, as there is clearly much more about his past to be revealed. I, for one, am excited about the prospect of a second novel in the series.