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Mr Godley's Phantom

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A haunting masterpiece from storyteller Mal Peet. Part ghost story, part detective novel and part something else entirely, Mr Godley's Phantom is something of an enigma, with its own distinctive fifties flavour of cigarettes, petrol and mystery.
Published 2018
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  183 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My second Mal Peet novel in the space of 10 days and, as I fully imagined, this little gem is the equal of The Murdstone Trilogy. Everything about it is simply brilliant. Everything.

Sadly, Mal Peet died before Mr Godley's Phantom was published. Before it had been edited even. This extract from the 'Editorial Note' at the end of the book explains:

This novel is a masterpiece and something of an enigma. Is it a ghost story? Is it a murder story? Is it something else entirely? It is also
Andy Weston
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was Mal Peet’s last book. Though he had finished it shortly before his death, he never saw it published. It’s a bit of an oddity also, in that it doesn’t fit tidily into any genre category. To describe it as a ghost story may be strictly true, but it’s by no means a ghost story in the conventional sense. It’s not written to scare, and that supernatural part of the book is a very small part. It could be described also as a crime novel, as there may possibly be a murder. Certainly it’s ...more
Olivier Delaye
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this cover to cover in one sitting. Not because the prose flows; in fact, it doesn’t, on account of it being written in an English that’s more British than the Queen. But because this is the kind of story that sucks you in so deep that finishing it quickly seems to be the only rational thing to do. Here is a ghost story that doubles as a thriller that trebles as a cozy mystery that quadruples as a psychological study of a PTSD-suffering war veteran that quintuples as… well, you get my ...more
Mairead Hearne (
‘After the war, after he was out, Martin Heath did almost nothing for several months. He was still young but his dreams – nocturnal and diurnal – belonged to an older man, a man much damaged and long steeped in blood. Death operated the film projector inside his head’

Mr Godley’s Phantom is the posthumously published novel from award winning writer Mal Peet. With it’s very eye-catching cover, this edition was recently published on 1st August with David Fickling Books. Mal Peet lived to complete
Karen Mace
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover of this book caught my eye in the library, and I found it to be a little gem of a book! Really subtle, atmospheric and easy to read so praise be for covers luring me in to discover new favourites!

Set in 1945, Martin Heath is back from the war and is a broken man considering all he has seen and been through. In the days before counselling and times of 'stiff upper lip' you just had to get on with life. An old comrade tells Martin of a job that might suit him so he heads off to Devon
Simon Cox
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc
Absolutely fantastic. I'd never heard of Mal Peet before but this book was superb. The quality of the writing, the characterisation, and the plot all added up to a brilliant read. I'll definitely be searching out his other novels.
Naomi Key
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
A very quick read as it’s only short but it packs so much in. Is it a ghost story, a murder mystery , an examination of the horrors of war and its impact on 20th century psyche; it’s all of these and more.
J Bradbury
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gripping short story, unfolds in a mysterious way but very dark!
Josie Jaffrey
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this novella. It's short, but it packs so much into so few pages, and I have no idea at all how to review it.

I'll start with some bland praise: the book has a very strong sense of place. It embeds the reader deeply in the isolated setting with very few words.

I found the characters equally well-crafted. They felt real and interesting, and I was eager to read more about them all.

Then there's the story itself. I'm not going to go into much detail because I don't want to ruin it, but the
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it

Visit the locations in the book

I adored this book. Well it’s more like a novella given its short length but when it dropped on the mat, it took me back to the days when books had paper jackets and my mum would take me to flea markets and the libraries and I would hunt for forgotten titles. It’s a gorgeously packaged and quite small in size, so when you hold it, you know it’s unique from the start.

First of all, the setting – this was like driving along those rural Devon roads taking in those
Ronnie Turner
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Martin Heath has returned from the war a changed man. He is tormented by memories, of death and destruction. His mind will not settle. No medicine can help, despite what the doctor says. His old home is without comfort, his old life distant and unreachable. He is broken and afraid.

When Martin is offered a job at Burra Hall as driver and helper to Mr Godley, he jumps at the chance, drawn to the rugged, windswept terrain and harsh, freeing silence. There is some form of peace to be had from the
This is a very strange, shortish book which I certainly enjoyed immensely but I don't think it is quite the masterpiece which Mr Hahn describes.
Those who come back from modern war tend to be damaged in some way or other; physically, psychologically, mentally, or some combination of the above. Those who were early witnesses of Belsen and other death camps were particularly damaged. Martin Heath was one of those and found it very difficult to step back into "normal" life afterwards. One of his
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Not a "masterpiece," but a very fine piece of work, that is beautifully written and raises all sorts of interesting questions about storytelling.

Because, forget about is it a ghost story, is it a murder mystery, that's not what's going on here. Mal Peet is telling a story, Martin Heath is telling a story. Annie, Godley, Sheepstone the detective ... they are all telling stories, and what they say (and when) and how they say it, and what they choose to withhold makes all the difference -- to our
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-authors
Unsurprisingly is a beautifully written book. The Editor Note says this is published without revision or edits, just as Mal Peet wrote them.

Mr Godley's Phantom is unusual. It doesn’t fit into a single genre and while I would class it as an Adult read it is also found in YA. There are ghosts (actual as well as metaphorical); there is mystery, friendship and the murder. The story is divided, broken even, between the characters and the action.

It’s a book that almost instantly solves the biggest
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was highly recommended by the Guardian and was delighted to come across it. It's actually shelved as ' young adult fiction' but this is doing it a disservice as its a wonderful book and this might deter others from reading it. The book is an enigma and when I finished it all I could say was wow! Martin Heath has come back from war suffering from post traumatic stress as he was one of the first into Belsen . A friend tells him of a position working for an old man , Mr Godley. He ends up ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘Hauntings are, in their way, very specific”, the narrator of Seamus Deane’s brilliant novel Reading in the Dark muses, when pondering the devastating effect a family secret has had upon his childhood and adolescence. “Everything has to be exact, even the vaguenesses.”

Much of this applies to Mr Godley’s Phantom, whose haunting is also forged in bloodshed. Evil is seen as an “infection”, liable to blight lives, but is not beyond redemption, which gives this tale of loss and bereavement a silver
Tara Lewis
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories-enjoyed
I'm not sure how to review this one, to be honest. It was completely engrossing and I found that I wanted more, but then it has given me so much thought fodder since. It's a remarkable little gem, beautifully written and characterised. I wish I had had the opportunity to read it in a sitting so it's on my reread pile.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is a very complex and difficult book to review and i feel it didn't really fit into any genre. I can't decide whether I liked it or not yet and it left me with more unanswered questions than answers.
Karen Grikitis
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wonderful, old-fashioned, quintessentially English tale of a troubled squaddie returning from WWII into the employment of a solitary, sad, old gentleman. Ghost-story, police procedural or historical novel? You decide.
Russell James
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Peet's last book and possibly his best (Discuss!), marketed as another of his 'Teen' books but an excellent ghostly tale for any reader. The 85 year old Mr Godley hires a damaged war hero as chauffeur for his Rolls Royce Phantom . . .
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First Mal Peet book for me. A story of bereavement, the impact of war, ghosts and criminal shenanigans, with a little murder-mystery too, all of which blend together seamlessly into a really enjoyable story. I finished it in two consecutive days which is testament to its gripping plot.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Beautifully written, left me with more questions than answers. The library I borrowed it from has it classified as YA. I'd be a bit careful over which young adult I gave it to. some quite pithy writing in places, but so well done. An incentive to read more of this writer's work.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
reader is left unsure about the motive behind the murder but otherwise a quick, enjoyable read.
Tansy Hepton
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
More of a novella than a novel, easy to read in one sitting. A seemingly simple story but with hidden depths that I think will require several re-reads.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Super book - Mal Peet channelling M R James. I picked up a copy and began reading it on the evening of 31 October, which was just perfect. Haunting in every meaning of the word.
Vincent Ripley
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book review will be posted on near publication day.
Miss Anna K Martin
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the blurb says on the back, this is part ghost story, part crime thriller, and part something else entirely.
Katy Wheatley
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a great story. Reminded me a little of Turn of the Screw but in a less gothic way. It's part thriller, part ghost story. A very addictive read.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
another story set in post-war 1940s - my 3rd this year and its only mid-January.

A slight story, but with Mal's characteristic quality of writing. It was the product of his time in Wellington.
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NZ Intermediate S...: Mr Godley's Phantom - NZSO August 2 9 Sep 02, 2018 02:02AM  

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Mal Peet grew up in North Norfolk, and studied English and American Studies at the University of Warwick. Later he moved to southwest England and worked at a variety of jobs before turning full-time to writing and illustrating in the early 1990s. With his wife, Elspeth Graham, he had written and illustrated many educational picture books for young children, and his cartoons have appeared in a ...more