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Summary

The moment I heard how McAra died I should have walked away. I can see that now...

The narrator of Robert Harris's gripping new novel is a professional ghostwriter - cynical, mercenary, and with a nice line in deadpan humour. Accustomed to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities, he jumps at the chance to ghost the memoirs of Britain's former prime minister, especially as it means flying to the American resort of Martha's Vineyard in the middle of winter and finishing the book in the seclusion of a luxurious house.

But it doesn't take him long to realise he has made a terrible mistake. His predecessor on the project died in circumstances that were distinctly suspicious, and the ex-prime minister turns out to be a man with secrets in his past that are returning to haunt him - secrets with the power to kill.

©2007 Robert Harris (P)2014 AudioGo Ltd. Published by Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about The Ghost

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Just Short of Excellent

Just read The Ghost by Robert Harris. This is the first of seven of his novels I have read that falls short of the standard of excellence. Why ? The novel is too close to recent events; I know this was intentional and the fictional Ex-Prime-minister is based on Tony Blair but the reader will not be able to remove this thought from his / her mind and it becomes more a comment on recent events than the work of a master storyteller which is what Robert Harris is. Nevertheless, the theory unfolded at the end is an interesting one and once again, I highly recommend a Robert Harris novel to potential readers.

My rating: 4/5.

8 people found this helpful

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Makes me think again about the British PM

This is an excellent book, well read by Michael Jayston, who does a superb job.

The plot is plausible, in spite of the involvement of the usual american three letter agencies, and the story unfolds in a natural, unforced way. The ending is particularly poignant. Thoroughly enjoyable.

6 people found this helpful

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Poor performance

Unfortunately Michael Jayston's reading of this intriguing story spoilt it for me. He sounded as though he was having trouble with his dentition and his rendering of different voices and accents was very poor.

3 people found this helpful

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An excellent book let down by a poor narrator

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Jayston?

Anyone more suited to the age and attitude of the protagonist; anyone who can pronounce words properly.

Any additional comments?

Robert Harris is my go-to to make the long day at work go by faster. His books are pacy and intriguing, but not too challenging (I can get on with my work while listening). The Ghost is a great story made less great by a poor choice of narrator.

Firstly, the narrator sounds like a dusty, acerbic Oxbridge professor, which doesn't fit the protagonist at all. His accent is so cut glass that he says 'syootcase' and manages to make 'textbook' a four-syllable word. It's just not how the protagonist would sound at all! Bear in mind that Ewan McGregor was cast in the film version, not Ian McKellen.

His accents are terrible too - the first American we meet sounds like a cigar-waggling 1920s gangster, and a gentleman from New York is, for some reason, given a Southern drawl.

He voices the protagonist inexplicably aggressively, where casual utterances such as 'What?' sound as if they are being spat out along with buckets of spittle and bile. It makes a lot of the dialogue pantomime-y. He also mis-reads the tone of lines - where a line ends 'she enquired', he reads her lines completely flatly.

He also pronounces some words wrong - 'grimaced' becomes 'gri-MACED', 'mannequin' is 'manne-kwin'.

Why this person was chosen to narrate this book is baffling. He doesn't fit at all, and on top of that he's not a good narrator in general (for the reasons listed above). It really does make an excellent printed novel only 'okay' in the audio format.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 16-01-16

Classic Robert Harris

Even if you've seen the film, this is still really engrossing. I really liked the narrator, even though his American accents were terrible and he can't pronounce some of the proper names properly! He was so brilliant otherwise it didn't wind up mattering.

2 people found this helpful

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Breathtakingly brilliant.

This is a wonderful book - for me one of Robert Harris's best. And the ending is a real eye-opener. Altogether a brilliant book superbly narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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The Ghost by Robert Harris

Not one of Harris's best stories. It has too many holes in it . I found Michael Jayston's reading of it difficult to listen to at first, I'm afraid. I was very aware of him breathing and it made me feel breathless to listen to it. If l concentrated l could overcome this, however.

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Michael Jayston did his best

As predictable as the sixth sense and something of a cop-out. Well read but rubbish story.

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Enjoyable and pacey

Well told story, with characters who seemed remarkably familiar. Tony, Cherie, Gordon and Alistair all sprang to mind. If you enjoy a thriller with a twist and some fairly blunt resemblances to real life political players from the recent past then you'll enjoy this book.

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interesting story, parallels to real events 1990s+

I enjoyed this from start to finish - plot well constructed with enough pace to keep me interested. I like stories with political messages and this seemed to fit the bill in that respect.

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  • Alice
  • 09-07-21

Michael Jayston is my favourite reader

I have loved Jayston’s performances since “Tinker Tailor” and “Smiley’s People” — and this book was a fine vehicle for him. More, please.