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Ghost of a Smile (A Ghost Finders Novel) by Simon R. Green
Cover Artist: Dan Sipley
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441020751
Date: 30 August 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

When JC Chance, Melody Chambers and Happy Jack Palmer are called in on a case, you know things are worse than bad. They might be downright apocalyptic.

That's certainly the case in Ghost of a Smile by Simon R. Green, the second Ghost Finders novel, wherein the intrepid threesome take on a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

Chimera House in London is a secret laboratory for Mutable Solutions, Inc., a cutting-edge genetics shop. An emergency call has led to two policemen and a security squad vanishing--and now presumed dead. The Carnacki Institute has been called in to investigate...and now JC, Melody and Happy Jack are in over their heads.

Their ace in the hole is Kim, JC's ghostly girlfriend. She has perceptions of the afterworld and can offer advice that even Happy Jack's formidable telepathy and JC's eldritch vision can't detect.

The team quickly learns that MSI was working on something bigger than big; in fact, it was the sort of thing that defied law, humanity and common sense itself. And they had a breakthrough, of sorts, that wrought horrifying changes on everyone inside the building. Getting past a wave of ghostlike guardians is only the first step, as successive waves of even worse horrors manifest.

Their ultimate goal is the experiment's end result--but JC and his team soon realize that there is a hidden mastermind at work here, one whose goal includes the involvement of the Carnacki team as a prelude to unleashing even more terrible things upon the world.

Unless JC and his team can comprehend what happened in the laboratory--and survive an encounter with what resulted--the world itself may not endure what MSI and its secret allies have in store.

In the second Ghost Finders novel, Simon R. Green ramps up the action with a dungeon crawl of sorts into a hellish laboratory. The four heroes muster their courage and harness their best weaponry (even though tech-happy Melody's special equipment is not-so-conveniently missing) in order to investigate a science nightmare.

The team grapples with troubling questions as well. Why was the Carnacki Institute called into this, when this is not their sort of problem at all--when, in fact, MSI shouldn't even know they exist? And how far should they trust the information they dig out of MSI's computers, which seem suspiciously easy to hack?

JC continues to evolve as a leader, with his mind constantly worrying the problem and engaging however he can. When no path forward presents itself, in the best tradition of Green's heroes, he kicks the door down and starting busting heads. His loyal teammates Melody and Happy Jack follow along, pointing out the suicidal nature of JC's methods even as they back him up 100%.

Ultimately, the team is forced to make some very risky choices and put everything on the line, when it seems they might have misplayed the whole incident. The enemy and the story's resolution pave the way for the next book, which should delight Green's legions of fans no end.

Packed with creepy thrills, Ghost of a Smile is a mighty strong follow-up in this brand new series. Ghost hunting has never been quite this exciting.

Recommended.

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