Narrated in the first person, The Ghost is the story of a professional ghostwriter hired to write the autobiography of the former British Prime Minister, Andrew Lang, a figure clearly modelled on Tony Blair.
It starts as a straightforward job for a man who routinely helps celebrities make sense of their confused recollections, until two significant things happen. One is that the War Crimes Tribunal in Geneva announces its intention of investigating Andrew Lang’s record during the recent conflict in Iraq; the other is that the narrator begins to suspect that the former Prime Minister may at some point have been recruited by the CIA.
Of course, it’s a suggestion that has been trotted out at many a left-wing dinner party in the last ten years but Harris takes it a few stages further and adds a delicious little twist of his own very near the end of the book.
In this novel Harris adopts a very different style from the quasi-academic tone of some of his other novels, like Archangel for example. This narrator is conversational, deliberately lowbrow, almost Raymond Chandleresque in places, which makes it all the more convincing when he gets dragged reluctantly into the plot, uncovering a network of lies that seems at first absurdly improbable but with each revelation becomes more and more plausible.
This is a real tour de force – a political thriller that is immensely readable and also wickedly humorous. I was sorry when I came to the end.