Reviews for Ghostman
Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
*Starred Review* A first novel comes along every few years that clearly separates itself from the field, like Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. This year's Secretariat is going to be Ghostman, a propulsive thriller that combines incredible detail and nonstoppable narrative drive. Jack White is the Ghostman, a pseudonymous loner living far off the grid who specializes in disappearing. After a high-level heist, he makes sure that all traces of the caper vanish. Only once, in Kuala Lumpur, did it all go bad. The organizer of that job, a master criminal named Marcus, blames Jack for the fiasco, so when Marcus penetrates Jack's deep cover, it clearly means trouble. But Marcus doesn't want to kill the Ghostman, at least not yet. What Marcus wants is for Jack to even the score by making a botched armored-car robbery in Atlantic City disappear--except, of course, for the take, which has itself disappeared but needs to be found. The clock is ticking because if the $1.2 million in freshly minted bills isn't recovered quickly, it will explode. Naturally, there are multiple levels of double- and triple-crosses layered within the premise, and Hobbs tantalizingly reveals them--always keeping his hole cards thoroughly vested as he tracks Jack's progress. The suspense builds inexorably, heightened rather than impeded by the supportive detail with which Hobbs undergirds the action (the backstory on those exploding bills, for example, will have readers wondering how a twentysomething author could possibly know what he knows). There's also a jaunty, cat-and-mouse subplot involving Jack and a female FBI agent who may be more interested in Jack than the crime. Comparisons to Lee Child are inevitable here, and surely Hobbs possesses a Child-like ability for first unleashing and then shrewdly directing a tornado of a plot, but he also evokes Elmore Leonard in the subtle interplay of his characters. A triumph on every level. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Knopf knows it has a winner here and is backing Hobbs' debut with the kind of marketing support rarely granted a first novel. Movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers, and options have been signed by 13 publishers across the globe. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #2
An ice-in-his-veins fixer trawls Atlantic City for a missing bundle of cash in this watertight debut thriller. Jack Delton, the hero of this novel--and, presumably, more to come--is a "ghostman," an expert at disappearing and helping others disappear. He's a free agent with a full armory of skills that help him kill a man, cross borders, take on entirely new personalities and be smugly unimpressed with criminal overlords. But his botch of a big-money bank heist in Kuala Lumpur five years ago means he owes a favor to one of those honchos, Marcus, who's looking for a bag of cash that disappeared with a gunman when a casino robbery went sour. The clock's ticking: The bundle is a "federal payload" containing a packet of indelible ink set to explode in 48 hours. Jack is a superb sleuth and an entertaining explainer of the variety of ways one can torment or kill somebody (a jar of nutmeg can be terrifyingly deadly, it turns out), and Hobbs ensures he's in a heap of trouble fast: Marcus is watching closely, and Jack is also in the cross hairs of an FBI agent and a rival criminal, the Wolf, who's guarded by Aryan Brotherhood thugs. Straight out of the gate, Hobbs has mastered the essentials of a contemporary thriller: a noirlike tone, no-nonsense prose and a hero with just enough personality to ensure he doesn't come off as an amoral death machine. Jack loves Ovid, hates heroin and cripples his pursuers--but not so badly that they won't have a chance to come back in a future installment. The federal payload deadline gives the plot its essential urgency, but Hobbs is even better in the Kuala Lumpur interludes--heart-stopping scenes that illustrate how small mistakes can turn catastrophic. A smart entry into the modern thriller pantheon, at once slick and gritty. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
Only a handful of people know that Jack actually exists, but when he's called in by some bad guys to clean up after a botched Atlantic City casino robbery, he finds himself uncomfortably close to exposure. A few weeks after its purchase, this book caused an uproar at Frankfurt. Rights went to nine countries, and film rights have been sold as well. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
A ghostman is a fixer who "disappears" criminals--and all that pesky evidence of their crimes--without trace. Hobbs's remarkable debut features a ghostman so capably disappeared that he doesn't even have a name, though you can call him Jack. He lacks a phone number, an email, even fingerprints. He has no friends, relationships, or family. He can become invisible so that he can use a toy badge to lift evidence from a crime scene. While such a life might take the fun out of bowling night, Jack's tactical senses make him the right man to correct a failed armored-car robbery in Atlantic City. To settle a debt with a former employer, Jack needs to find a missing block of $1.2M in cash before a timed detonator destroys the take. It's a tremendous read in which the driving plot is supplemented with details about assorted life-of-crime nuggets (e.g., why the Mazda MX5 is the best getaway car). Jack juggles his hunt while playing cat-and-mouse with a flirty FBI agent and fending off a local honcho nicknamed "the Wolf." Jack is also haunted by a botched job in which his infatuation, Angela, played a large role. Certainly, some readers (ahem: females) might not like Jack. He's sardonic, even hollow. Still, reminiscent of Richard Stark's (Donald Westlake) Parker stories, this is way too good to be a first novel. Even more impressive is the author is like, 12 (ok, maybe 23 years old) --keep writing, kid! VERDICT An emphatic "yes!" (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #2
Hobbs's strong debut bypasses a potentially over-familiar premise, a lone-wolf crook trying to outwit the underworld's higher powers through sheer verve. Five years after a failed heist in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the protagonist, identified only by the alias "Jack Delton," is leading an anonymous existence, but not enough of one to prevent his former boss, the Moriarty-like Marcus Hayes, from summoning him at a moment's notice. Marcus's latest heist, of an armored car delivering .2 million to an Atlantic City casino, has gone badly, bloodily wrong, with one henchman dead and the other in hiding with the loot. Jack must find the survivor in the next 48 hours before an ink bomb hidden in the cash goes off, while also dealing with FBI agent Rebecca Blacker and local kingpin Harrihar "the Wolf" Turner. Though occasionally overloaded with information about criminal procedure, Hobbs's supremely confident storytelling should leave readers eagerly anticipating his antihero's future felonies. 150,000 first printing; 5-city author tour. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC