Ghosts Know

( 2 )


Ramsey Campbell's Ghosts Know is a fascinating exploration of the twists and turns of reality-media personalities, the line between the dead and the living…and how the truth can be twisted to serve all manner of reality.

Graham Wilde is a contentious, bombastic host of the talk radio program Wilde Card. His job, as he sees it, is to stir the pot, and he is quite good at it, provoking many a heated call with his eccentric and often irrational audience. He invites Frank Jasper, a ...

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Ghosts Know

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Ramsey Campbell's Ghosts Know is a fascinating exploration of the twists and turns of reality-media personalities, the line between the dead and the living…and how the truth can be twisted to serve all manner of reality.

Graham Wilde is a contentious, bombastic host of the talk radio program Wilde Card. His job, as he sees it, is to stir the pot, and he is quite good at it, provoking many a heated call with his eccentric and often irrational audience. He invites Frank Jasper, a purported psychic, to come on the program. He firmly believes that the man is a charlatan, albeit a talented one. When Jasper appears on his show, Wilde draws upon personal knowledge about the man to embarrass him on air, using patter similar to that which Jasper utilizes in his act.

Wilde's attack on Jasper earns him the enmity of his guest and some of the members of his audience. He next encounters Jasper when the psychic is hired by the family of a missing adolescent girl to help them find her. Wilde is stunned and then horrified when Jasper seems to suggest that he might be behind the girl's disappearance.

Thus begins a nightmarish journey as circumstantial evidence against Wilde begins to mount, alienating his listeners, the radio station, and eventually, his lover. As Wilde descends into a pit of despair, reality and fantasy begin to blur in a kaleidoscope of terror….

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Campbell’s latest novel is intelligently crafted and flawlessly paced, with carefully delineated characters and an uncanny ability to confound readers’ expectations. Though the venerable Campbell (Midnight Sun) is known for horror, this is more a tale of psychological suspense set against a wittily constructed backdrop of conglomerate-controlled media. British radio host Graham Wilde enjoys his role as the smartest guy in the room, infuriating his most irrational listeners while entertaining an ever-increasing audience. Then Wilde picks the wrong target. His on-air deconstruction of the methods of theatrical psychic Frank Jasper, who has joined the search for missing 15-year-old Kylie Goodchild, provokes retaliation from Wilde’s listeners, his bosses, and the police. As Jasper vindictively forges links between Wilde and the crime, Campbell mines the suspense through deliberately ambiguous dialogue and Wilde’s own frustrating intractability. In an increasingly oppressive atmosphere, Wilde’s detached skepticism blossoms into a paranoid rage, and doubt is artfully cast as to whether he is wrongly accused or just cornered. Campbell is in top form, cleverly pulling readers’ strings at every turn. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly
A straight-shooting radio talk-show host and a glib fake psychic make intriguing sparring partners in this suspenseful thriller from British veteran Campbell (Seven Days of Cain). Graham Wilde thinks he's doing his listeners a service when he shows up stage psychic Frank Jasper as a possible trickster. What he doesn't expect is that the majority want to believe Jasper can (as he claims) see the ghosts of their dearly departed—or that Jasper will manipulate their gullibility to implicate Wilde as a potential suspect in the disappearance of a young girl that he has been called in to help the Manchester police with. Campbell develops his tale's wrong-man theme as masterfully in print as Alfred Hitchcock would in film, even throwing in a few plot curves to make the reader, whom Wilde takes into his confidence, occasionally doubt him. An undercurrent of black comedy, witty repartee between characters, a magnificent surprise ending, and Campbell's trademark verbal dexterity all contribute to this novel's abundant entertainments. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Controversial radio talk show host Graham Wilde makes an enemy when he tries to expose a popular stage psychic, Frank Jasper, on his program. Jasper begins a campaign to implicate Wilde in the disappearance of a young girl, a case that captures the attention of the media and the public. Little by little, evidence builds, and Wilde finds himself up against a wall of opinion. Horror Grand Master Campbell's latest novel is a tour de force of subtle misdirection and gradually mounting, haunting terror. VERDICT The author of The Darkest Part of the Woods has created a quirky tale of terror and suspense that should please his fans as well as the general reading public.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765336330
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,412,618
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ramsey Campbell has won more awards than any other living author of horror or dark fantasy, including four World Fantasy Awards, nine British Fantasy Awards, three Bram Stoker Awards, and two International Horror Guild Awards. Critically acclaimed both in the US and in England, Campbell is widely regarded as one of the genre's literary lights for both his short fiction and his novels. His classic novels, such as The Face that Must Die, The Doll Who Ate His Mother, and The Influence, set new standards for horror as literature.  His collection, Scared Stiff, virtually established the subgenre of erotic horror.


Ramsey Campbell's works have been published in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and several other languages. He has been President of the British Fantasy Society and has edited critically acclaimed anthologies, including Fine Frights. Campbell's best known works in the US are Obsession, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, and Nazareth Hill.

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Read an Excerpt




“And another thing about all these immigrants,” Arthur from Stockport declares. “You won’t want anybody hearing about the factory that’s had to change its name.”

“You’re here to enlighten us, Arthur.”

“Don’t patronise me, Mr Wilde.”

I’ve never had a caller make my name sound so much like an insult, though he’s had plenty of competition. Beyond the soundproof window of the studio Christine twirls one finger in the air. “You’ve got just a minute, Arthur,” I tell him. “We’re nearly at the news.”

“You always put anyone who thinks like me on last, don’t you, Mr Wilde? Bob from Blackley, he’s another. You haven’t let us on for weeks and now I’ve not got time to say what I came on for.”

“You’re using up your minute, Arthur.”

“It was a muslin factory till the lot who took all the jobs said it sounded too much like Muslim. They didn’t fancy the idea you could make those in a factory, so they told the boss they’d get him done for being racist if he didn’t call it a fabric manufacturer.”

“Where did you hear about that, Arthur?”

“It’s well known, Mr Wilde. Just try talking to a few people that live in the real world. And before you ask, the factory’s somewhere in Lancashire. Pakishire, we’ll have to call it if they carry on like this.”

“You mustn’t use words like that on here, Arthur.”

“It’s all right to call us Brits, but they won’t let us call them—”

“That’s all from Wilde Card for another lunchtime,” I say not quite fast enough to blot out his last word, and flick the switch to cut him off. “Here’s Sammy Baxter with the news at two o’clock.”

I take off my headphones as Christine switches the output to the news studio. I’m leaning back in the swivel chair to wriggle my shoulders and stretch when Rick Till blunders in, combing his unruly reddish hair at the same time as dragging his other arm free of his leather jacket. He’s always this harassed when he’s due on the air, even though he isn’t for five minutes. “All yours, Rick,” I say as he hangs the jacket on the back of my chair.

Samantha’s newscast meets me in the control room. “Kylie Goodchild’s mum made an emotional appeal…” The fifteen-year-old is still missing, but we don’t hear just her mother’s voice; it’s underlaid by the kind of tastefully mournful music that films use to demonstrate they’re serious. I’m so offended by the artificiality that I yank the outer door open and demand “Whose idea was that?”

Christine comes after me and lays a hand on my shoulder. “Graham…”

Some of the reporters and presenters in the large unpartitioned newsroom glance up from their desks, and Trevor Lofthouse lifts his head. He shakes it to flip back a lock of hair and adjusts his flimsy rectangular spectacles but doesn’t otherwise respond. “Do we really think we have to manipulate the listeners like that?” I’m determined to establish. “Do we think they won’t care otherwise?”

“What are you saying is manipulation?” Lofthouse retorts.

“Calling it an emotional appeal. What other kind is she going to make? Who needs to be told?” As the news editor’s spectacles twitch with a frown I say “And calling her the girl’s mum. What’s wrong with mother? It’s supposed to be the news, not somebody gossiping over a fence.”

“You’re off the air now, Graham. No need to start more arguments today.” Before I can retort that I never manufacture them he says “Why are you so bothered?”

“Maybe I hate clichés.” I sense that Christine would like me to leave it at that, but I resent the question too much. “Can’t we even broadcast an appeal without some music under it? We mustn’t think too highly of our audience if we think they need to be told what to feel.”

“It’s from Kylie Goodchild’s favourite film.”

Lofthouse doesn’t tell me so, and Christine doesn’t either. Paula Harding has opened her door and is watching me across the length of the newsroom. Even though she needs heels to reach five feet, it’s disconcerting that I didn’t notice her until she spoke—I’ve no idea how much she overheard. “Which film?” I suppose I have to ask.

To Kill a Mockingbird,” says Trevor. “Her class are studying the book at school and they were shown the film.”

I’d say it was an unusually worthy favourite for a girl of her age, but Paula calls “Can we talk in my office, Graham? I’ve just heard from one of your listeners.”

Christine gives my arm more of a squeeze than she ordinarily would at work, and I lay my hand over hers for a moment. As I head for Paula’s room everyone grows conspicuously busier at their desks. They’re embarrassed to watch me, but I suspect they’re also glad I’ve been singled out rather than them. Even Christine doesn’t know what I’m thinking, however. If Paula means to lecture me or worse, that may be all the excuse I need.


Copyright © 2011 by Ramsey Campbell

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 1.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2014

    I have come to the conclusion that there is often a disconnect b

    I have come to the conclusion that there is often a disconnect between British and American writers and readers. I wouldn't really classify this book as psychological suspense, though it was hard to put it into any category. I simply did not understand the narrator and main character of the story. He was constantly CONSTANTLY describing himself as in a rage, enraged, or trying to hold back his rage - most of the time for things that are minor annoyances. How can one identify with that type of character. Additionally, with the exception of a tacked on plot twist at the very end of the story, this was not a story about ghosts or the line between the living and the dead. At least I didn't see it. The banter was sometimes also difficult to follow--in part as to who was saying what, and more importantly WHY they were saying what they were saying. It just didn't keep my interest very well. I'd be interested in reading some reviews from Brittish readers to see if, perhaps, something is lost in the translation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014


    Being an avid reader, I am always on the hunt for new things to explore. When I saw this author written up as one of the top five horror writers, I was eager to take a look at his work and was bolstered by the fact that he had had so much published. I am deeply and profoundly sorry I spent $13 for this book. It was short and made even shorter by the gaping margins, spacing and large text. The story started off badly and proceeded to go downhill from there. The repetition of words is staggering. The plot was flimsy. And this was certainly NOT horror. I've seen better writing from grade school children. I'd give this a negative rating if I could. I want my money...and my time...back.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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