The Ghost, by Robert Harris

The ex-British PM Adam Lang's autobiography is due out, but his collaborator died shortly before completing it, and has left a manuscript that is not publishable. And so a professional ghost-writer is employed, and given a month to re-write the whole book. One of the reasons for the hurry is that Lang has just been accused of war-crimes, and so it needs to be published soon in order to benefit from maximum publicity.

This was a not-too-demanding and easily-readable thriller. The ghost-writer (who's name I can't remember) narrates the story, and as the book progresses slowly realises that there's more going on than meets the eye. In attempting to follow up his predecessor, he starts to realise that the death may not have been accidental, and begins to worry about his own safety as he seems to be drawn inexorably into various sinister goings-on.

I started off assuming that Lang was simply a thinly-disguised Tony Blair, but although there are some parallels (very polished performer in public; delivered convincing election victories; accused of war crimes following dubious treatment of supposed terrorists; overly-fond of the Americans), there's not much in Lang's character that feels very Blair-ish.

I saw the twist coming before it was made explicit, but even so it did not really ring true, and the book ends with quite a few loose ends. E.g. The ghost-writer goes to bed by Lang's wife, which in light of subsequent events seems a bit out of character. And Lang in person comes across as pretty naive and shallow, which is hard to reconcile with his reputation as a great political leader.

But pretty enjoyable. I see there's a film of the story, so maybe I'll try and get a cheap copy of the DVD.

Completed : 13-Nov-2012 (audiobook)

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