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In the criminal underworld, there are many specialists needed when pulling a heist. Perhaps the most important is the ghostman, the person responsible for helping perpetrators disappear when the task is done. Unfortunately for the protagonist of this debut thriller, sometimes it's impossible to disappear completely. Several years removed from botching a job in Kuala Lumpur, "Jack" (as he sometimes allows himself to be called) finds himself pressed into service cleaning up a casino robbery in Atlantic City. In less than 48 hours, he has to make the robbery vanish while staying one step ahead of the FBI and a rival crime boss. Verdict The novel is frenetic yet methodical, a police procedural told from the wrong side of the law. With its unpredictable plot and an antihero readers will take a perverse joy in cheering for, this book will attract fans of Lee Child, George Pelecanos, or classic hard-boiled fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/12.]-Peter Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*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.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist
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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 $1.2 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.