01/12/2010

"The Ghost"

by Robert Harris

The film of this book was generally well reviewed and so for some reason I decided to read the book first. I've read a couple of Harris's books before (Fatherland and Enigma, if memory serves, although I've got a feeling I didn't finish the latter) and while I can't say I'm a huge fan, the premise seemed strong enough to make it worth a go.

Just in case you don't know, the book is written by an unnamed ghost writer who is employed to write the autobiography of a recently resigned UK Prime Minister who is currently being accused of war crimes relating to the Gulf War.  The ex-Prime Minister is a highly personable man with a high-profile, controversial wife.  But something's not quite as it seems, and the previous ghost writer has died under mysterious circumstances ...

No prizes for guessing that it's supposed to be about the Blairs and so it's difficult to read it without having that in the background. Maybe that's intentional; Harris is obviously Making A Point and wants it to be clear who he is Making A Point about.

<spoiler>
But, as a thriller, it's not really very thrilling.  Really, all Harris wants to do is accuse Blair of being a CIA puppet.  Although - shocking twist alert - really he's just a puppet of his conniving wife, who is a CIA secret agent!  Yawn.
</spoiler>

So, not subtle at all.  It would have wasted less of my time if he'd just written a short pamphlet on his accusations.  But then I guess he would have had to defend himself in court, whereas this way he can hide behind the "fiction".

Anyway, I didn't enjoy this, as you can probably tell, and in fact I didn't finish it properly at all. I got most of the way through, mainly because it was the only book I had with me in a hotel, but I flicked through the last 40 pages to see how it ended.

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