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Literature / The Ghost (2007)

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The Ghost is a Robert Harris thriller novel published on September 26th, 2007.

Most of the book takes place at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang is there in the holiday home of his billionaire American publisher in order to turn out his memoirs on a deadline. When the book is not focused at that location, it focuses on the location of Notting Hill, New York, and Whitehall.

Lang has been trying to write his memoirs but it proves to be more difficult than it looks. Mike McAra, Lang's former aide, tried to be a ghostwriter for Lang's memoirs, but he drowns after falling off the Woods Hole ferry shortly afterward. The narrator is an unnamed replacement ghostwriter for McAra. He does some investigating and discovers that Adam Lang has some dangerous secrets. These are secrets that put the narrator in great danger.

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The film The Ghost Writer is a film adaptation of this book.


The Ghost provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: It is left unclear what exactly happened during Lang's assassination — i.e. whether he deliberately sacrificed himself and in what way Ruth was involved.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: George Arthur Boxer, the crazy protester in front of Lang's house, ends up killing Lang in a suicide bombing.
  • Downer Ending: McAra, Lang and Richard Rycart are dead, there will be no further investigation into the war crimes committed by the CIA, and it appears that the protagonist will be the next target of the unseen omniscient Greater-Scope Villain(s).
  • Lady Macbeth: Adam Lang's wife is a sinister manipulator towards him.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Mike McAra fell off the Woods Hole ferry and drowned. It looked like an accident, but it turned out later that it wasn't.
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  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lang is a thinly-veiled portrayal of Tony Blair. The Italian edition cover just flat-out gives the game away by blanking out Blair's face and using it as the cover photo.
  • No Name Given: The narrator's name is never revealed.

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