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Ghosts Of Manhattan by George Mann

1/8/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Ghosts Of Manhattan in the USA - or Buy Ghosts Of Manhattan in the UK

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pub: Pyr/Prometheus Books. 237 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $16.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61614-194-3.

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The Ghost is a hero in a world that really needs one. An alternate version of our own, this is a world that relies on steam power. Airships haunt the sky and coal-powered cars drive sleekly though the streets of New York. Oh, the dry-cleaning bills. With his jet-powered boots and night vision glasses, the Ghost moves across the roof tops of Manhattan fighting injustice and corruption.

Gabriel is a rich, indolent man who has a fancy blonde girl-friend, Celeste. He spends his life throwing parties for the rest of the indolent rich of New York. They have a nice life and none of the problems of the city impinge on their meaningless existence.

Donovan is just an ordinary policeman who is straight upstanding guy but he's been approached and his wife threatened. A series of mysterious deaths are part of a pattern which leads to a thug known only as the Roman. Donovan's life is changed overnight. He desperately needs an ally.

You might think you've seen it all before and you have. Batman, Superman, all the Justice League. Everyone has their own favourite super-hero with a hidden identity. This is an entertaining book which demonstrates how eager we all are for another variant on our favourites.

Most of the interest here is the creation of the world that the Ghost inhabits. A lot of thought has gone into the backdrop of the story. This would make a great graphic novel as it would eliminate all the description necessary here. I would rather see the expression on the faces than constantly be told by the manner in which they speak. The dialogue is hampered by adjectives but is much more suited to plain delivery. There is also a lot of thought behind the story itself, which spans across mob hits to supernatural events. What I don't get from this is anything about the characters. Donovan's character is closest to a real person but I don't care what happens to him. Celeste doesn't exist as a stand-alone person. As for the Ghost and his persona I just got bored with him being constantly referred to as The Ghost as by then we know who he really is. There are so many parallels with other super-heroes with hidden identities that it just felt rather tired.

I know I'm not the target audience for this kind of fiction but I wanted an 'in' and it just wasn't there for me. With no realistic female, I'm stuck with trying to emphasise with a bloke that likes to dress up.

Sue Davies

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