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A Classic Thriller

January 28, 2013

GhostmanI spent the weekend ripping through an Advanced Reader Copy of the soon-to-be released Ghostman. It’s the debut thriller written by Portland author Roger Hobbs and has already been signed up by at least thirteen publishers around the world. The movie rights have been sold to Warner Bros.

Dubbed a “literary thriller,” it’s what you would get if you crossed the grittiness of Pulp Fiction with the technical finesse and expertise of Ocean’s Eleven. The protagonist, known as Jack, recounts his part in two heists, one that is unfolding, and another in flashbacks.

It’s hard to believe that Hobbs is a recent graduate of Reed College and not a middle-aged former bank-robbing/safe-cracking/meth-sniffing nefarious figure just released from doing time in some supermax prison. He seems to know a lot about everything that only a criminal would know. Or someone who had done a ton of extensive research.
Roger Hobbs
The research is one of the reasons this thriller is so compelling. The amount of detail that Hobbs provides on everything from scoping out a bank, to the attributes of a meth-addled user, to the best way to convince someone you’re someone you’re not, is seriously impressive.

Hobbs provides plenty of tension-filled plot dusters that make for a page-turning experience. Unlike other thrillers where I have an inkling as to what’s going to happen long before it does, in Ghostman there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

Thrown in as a bonus, at least to me, is Jack’s affinity for reading the classics: Aeschylus, Caesar, Juvenal, Livy, to name a few. Our protagonist reads the works in the original Greek and Latin, by the way, and translates them into English for something relaxing to do in his down time. He says, “Reading their words helps me think. When I’m not on the job, I don’t have any words of my own.” He reminds me of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, in that regard, and I can see where Hobbs’ Reed education came in handy for those details.

Hobbs will read in Portland as part of his upcoming book tour, and I can’t wait to hear how he became such an expert in all things to do with the dark underbelly of crime. I will let you know what I find out.

Ghostman hits the shelves February 12th.

Check out the Ghostman book trailer here.

Knopf, 2013

  1. Wow, Diane, you had me at “middle-aged former bank-robbing/safe-cracking/meth-sniffing nefarious figure…” I will own a copy of this book for sure.

  2. I am so ready for a classic thriller! Thanks, Diane.

  3. Sounds like a sure success and a fascinating protagonist, the intellectual psychopath. Although it is no thriller, quite the opposite in fact, I can’t help but be reminded of Jonathan Ronson’s The Psychopath Test reviewed here, and in particular the insight he gained post publication when he received a letter from someone in therapy to assist with living normally in the world having the natural inclinations of a psychopath, never entirely safe from crossing the line.

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  1. The Inimitable Mr. Hobbs – Part 1 | DianeProkop

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