Ghosts of Manhattan
by George Mann
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré
Review by Drew Bittner
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616141943
Date: 27 April 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Call it newpulp or retropunk or whatever you like, but George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan is breaking new ground by going back to the pulps.
New York City, 1926. It's the Roaring Twenties and things are... strange. A vigilante known as the Ghost is foiling street crime, even as a new criminal genius known as the Roman is murdering upstanding citizens and consolidating his rule over New York's underworld. Despite its marvelous coal-powered cars and rocket-powered biplanes, the city is vulnerable and reeling from this crime spree.
Gabriel Cross is a wealthy, somewhat decadent socialite fascinated with cabaret singer Celeste. When the Roman turns his attention to this girl—who apparently has secrets of her own—it is the Ghost who ends up keeping her out of harm. At the same time, Inspector Donovan fights to discover who the Ghost and the Roman are, and then to contain the damage their war inflicts on the Big Apple.
The Ghost and Donovan work on a convergent series of murders, all of which appear to involve the Roman in some fashion. But as they each draw closer to the center of this web of crime, the Roman has some very special—and deadly—tricks up his sleeve.
Mann has pulled out all the stops in making Ghosts a page-turner that harkens back to pulp's glory days. The Ghost is the literary grandchild of such dark and violent vigilantes as the Shadow and the Avenger; he has his own code of honor but his job is fighting the city's worst thugs and lowlifes, so holding back is never really an option. His introduction is a bank robbery that doesn't go according to plan, ending in some gruesome bloodshed. Like the pulps, Mann doesn't shy away from showing the effects of violence.
Nor does he shy away from showing the effects of love on a solitary, near-obsessed personality. Celeste is a terrific complement to Gabriel, offering him everything he needs and extracting the spiritual poisons left by his time in the army in France. Wracked with nightmares, Cross needs Celeste desperately—but will her secrets prove their undoing?
Readers who are looking for a solid, delightful action-adventure in the fashion of the great pulp heroes of yesteryear have found their man. Here's to future adventures of the Ghost!