Ghostman

Ghostman

by Roger Hobbs

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307950499
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/30/2013
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 798,663
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Roger Hobbs was the youngest-ever winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and is a recipient of the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and the Maltese Falcon Prize. Born in 1988, Hobbs graduated from Reed College in Portland. Mr. Hobbs died in 2016.

www.rogerhobbs.com

Read an Excerpt

1

Seattle, Washington

The shrill, high-­pitched chirp of an incoming e-­mail was like a bell ringing in my head. I woke with a start and immediately put a hand on my gun. I took gasping breaths as my eyes adjusted to the light coming off my security screens. I looked over to the windowsill where I’d set my watch. The sky was still as black as ink.

I took the gun out from under my pillow and put it on my nightstand. Breathe.

When I regained my composure I scanned the monitors. There was no one in the hallway or the elevator. Nobody in the stairs or the lobby. The only person awake was the night watchman, who looked too engrossed in a book to notice anything. My building was an old ten-­story, and I was on the eighth floor. It was a seasonal sort of place, so there were year-­round occupants in only about half the rooms and none of them ever got up early. Everyone was still asleep, or away for the summer.

My computer chirped again.

I’ve been an armed robber for close to twenty years. Paranoia comes with the territory, as well as the stack of fake passports and hundred-­dollar bills under the bottom drawer of my dresser. I started in this business in my teens. I did a few banks because I thought I’d like the thrill of it. I wasn’t the luckiest and I’m probably not the smartest, but I’ve never been caught, questioned or fingerprinted. I’m very good at what I do. I’ve survived because I’m extremely careful. I live alone, I sleep alone, I eat alone. I trust no one.

There are maybe thirty people on earth who know I exist, and I am not sure if all of them believe I’m still alive. I am a very private person out of necessity. I don’t have a phone number and I don’t get letters. I don’t have a bank account and I don’t have debts. I pay for everything in cash, if possible, and when I can’t, I use a series of black Visa corporate credit cards, each attached to a different offshore corporation. Sending me an e-­mail is the only way to contact me, though it doesn’t guarantee I’ll respond. I change the address whenever I move to a different city. When I start getting messages from people I don’t know, or if the messages stop bearing important information, I microwave the hard drive, pack my things into a duffel and start all over.

My computer chirped again.

I ran my fingers over my face and picked up the laptop from the desk next to my bed. There was one new message in my in-­box. All of my e-­mails get redirected through several anonymous forwarding services before they reach me. The data goes through servers in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Thailand before it gets chopped up and sent to accounts all over the world. Anybody tracing the IP wouldn’t know which was the real one. This e-­mail had arrived at my first offshore address in Reykjavik some two minutes ago, where the server had encrypted it with my private-­key 128-­bit cipher. From there it had been forwarded to another address registered under a different name. Then another address, then another. Oslo, Stockholm, Bangkok, Caracas, São Paulo. It was daisy-­chained down the line ten times with a copy in each in-­box. Cape Town, London, New York, L.A., Tokyo. Now it was undetectable, untraceable, private and anonymous. The information had circled the world almost twice before it got to me. It was in all these in-­boxes, but my cipher key could unlock only one. I entered my pass code and waited for the message to decrypt. I could hear the hard drive doing a spin-­up and the CPU beginning to work. Five in the morning.

Outside the sky was empty, except for a few lights on in the skyscrapers, which looked like foggy constellations. I’ve never liked July. Where I’m from the whole summer is intolerably hot. The security monitors had browned out for a few seconds the night before, and I had to spend two hours checking them. I opened a window and put my fan next to it. I could smell the shipping yard outside—­old cargo, garbage and salt water. Across the train tracks the bay stretched out like a giant oil slick. That early in the morning, only a half dozen or so headlights cut through the darkness. The fishing boats cast rigger beams over the nets, and the early ferries were setting off from the harbor. The fog rolled in from Bainbridge Island and through the city, where the rain stopped and the cargo express cast a shadow from the track going east. I took my watch off the windowsill and put it on. I wear a Patek Philippe. It doesn’t look like much, but it will tell the correct time until long after everyone I’ve ever known is dead and buried, the trains stop running and the bay erodes into the ocean.

My encryption program made a noise. Done.

I clicked on the message.

The sender’s address had been obscured by all the redirects, but I knew instantly who it was from. Of the possibly thirty people who know how to contact me, only two knew the name in the subject line, and only one I knew for sure was alive.

Jack Delton.

My name isn’t really Jack. My name isn’t John, George, Robert, Michael or Steven, either. It isn’t any of the names that appear on my driver’s licenses, and it isn’t on my passports or credit cards. My real name isn’t anywhere, except maybe on a college diploma and a couple of school records in my safety-­deposit box. Jack Delton was just an alias, and it was long since retired. I’d used it for a job five years ago and never again since. The words blinked on the screen with a little yellow tag next to them to show that the message was urgent.

I clicked it.

The e-­mail was short. It read: Please call immediately.

Then there was a phone number with a local area code.

I stared at it for a moment. Normally, when I got a message like this, I wouldn’t even consider dialing the number. The area code was the same as mine. I thought about this for a second and came up with two conclusions. Either the sender had been extraordinarily lucky or he knew where I was. Considering the sender, it was probably the latter. There were a few ways he could’ve done it, sure, but none of them would’ve been easy or cheap. Just the possibility that I’d been found should have been enough to send me running. I have a policy never to call numbers I don’t know. Phones are dangerous. It is hard to track an encrypted e-­mail through a series of anonymous servers. Tracking someone by their cell phone is easy, however. Even regular police can trace a phone, and regular police don’t deal with guys like me. Guys like me get the full treatment. FBI, Interpol, Secret Service. They have rooms full of officers for that sort of thing.

I looked at the blinking name long and hard. Jack.

If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I would’ve deleted it by now. If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I’d be closing the account and deleting all my messages. If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I’d be frying the computers, packing my duffel and buying a ticket for the next flight to Russia. I’d be gone in twenty minutes.

But it wasn’t from anyone else.

Only two people in the world knew that name.

I stood up and went to the dresser by my window. I pushed aside a pile of money and a yellow legal pad full of notes. When I’m not on a job, I translate the classics. I pulled a white shirt out of the drawer, a gray two-­piece suit from the closet and a leather shoulder holster from my dresser. I fished a little chrome revolver from the box on top: a Detective Special with the trigger guard and hammer spur filed off. I filled it with a handful of .38 hollow points. When I was dressed and ready, I took out an old prepaid international phone, powered it up and punched in the numbers.

The phone didn’t even ring. It just went right to connection.

“It’s me,” I said.

“You’re a hard man to find, Jack.”

“What do you want?”

“I want you to come to my clubhouse,” Marcus said. “Before you ask, you still owe me.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Fast, hard and knowing: this is an amazing debut full of intrigue, tradecraft and suspense.  Read it immediately!” —Lee Child

“A slam-bang, pedal-to-the-metal crime story that fires on all cylinders and then some!  Ghostman is a gritty, lean, mean adrenaline machine.  Mostly, though, it was just plain fun to read.  I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it highly enough.” —Christopher Reich

“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….The suspense builds inexorably, heightened by the supportive detail with which Hobbs undergirds the action…. 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.” —Bill Ott, Booklist

“This watertight debut [is] at once slick and gritty…  Straight out of the gate, Hobbs has mastered the essentials of a contemporary thriller: a noirlike tone, no-nonsense prose and a hero with just enough personality to ensure he doesn't come off as an amoral death machine [as well as] heart-stopping scenes that illustrate how small mistakes can turn catastrophic.”  —Kirkus, starred review

Customer Reviews

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Ghostman 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Learn from my mistakes. It was almost bedtime, but I thought I would sample a few chapters of Ghostman by Roger Hobbs before calling it a night. Yeah, good plan - didn't work. And I was very bleary eyed at work the next morning. Atlantic City. The perfect heist, perfectly planned- treasury bills on their way to a casino. But.....the best laid schemes of mice and men.... When things go horribly wrong, Marcus, the orchestrator (jugmarker) of the heist gets in touch with 'Jack' (aren't all the best anti-heroes named Jack?!) in hopes of salvaging part of his plan. Jack owes Marcus for something that happened on another job. Since that job Jack has disappeared - like a ghost. "My name isn't really Jack. My name isn't John, George, Robert, Michael or Steven, either. It isn't any of the names that appear on my drivers licenses and it isn't on my passports or credit cards. My real name isn't anywhere, except maybe on a college diploma and a couple of school records in my safety-deposit box. Jack Delton was just an alias, and it was long since retired. I'd used it for a job five years ago and never again since......Only two people in the world knew that name." Jack is caught between warring criminals, his own proclivity for living on the edge and the past. We slowly learn what happened in the botched robbery five years ago and how Jack came to be the Ghostman. Hobbs had me hooked from page one. The opening scenes are action filled, addictive and set the pace for the rest of the book. The story never falters or stalls and had me enthralled until I (reluctantly) turned the last page. The plot twists and turns in unexpected directions, taking the reader on a thrill packed ride. Hobbs has obviously done a great deal of research into the criminal underworld of robberies, casinos, security and more. (Who knew you could kill someone with nutmeg?) The details included are fascinating and really add depth to the story. This is not a glossed over paint by the numbers plot. In fact, I stopped at one point to go online and read about the author. I really could not believe this was a debut novel. "Roger Hobbs graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 2011, where he majored in English. His first book, GHOSTMAN, was written during the summer between his junior and senior years at Reed. He spent the school year rewriting it and editing. The manuscript was sent off on the day he graduated¿. A few weeks later it caused an uproar at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair, and has since sold in more than fifteen countries around the world." Who is going to love this book? Well, in my opinion, everyone. But if you're a fan of Reacher and the 'Oceans' heist movies, then this is one for you. I absolutely loved it - Five stars all the way. Roger Hobbs: "My protagonist may be on the other side of the law from Lee's (Childs) heroic Jack Reacher, but he's just as smart, rough and principled. If I can get anyone to stay up all night reading, then I've done my job." Job done, Roger - in spades. More please.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Jack Reacher and the character in this book reminds me of Jack. There is a lot of the same type of analysis done by each character. This Jack may be a little less "heroic" by is nevertheless quite engaging and the action and suspense are very similiar to the way Lee Childs writes.Please give us more of these stories Roger!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love, love, love this book. The story keeps you enthralled from page one up until the very end. I can hardly wait for more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very much along the lines of the Parker stories of Richard Stark, but far more (and unnecessarily) gruesome. Hobbs, however, lacks Stark's (Westlake's, actually) skill in quickly and incisively defining character. Plot rolls along, but the lack of character weakens it.
gnocci More than 1 year ago
Decent, but hype left me expecting more. Rolling Stone said Hobbs did extensive research, interviewing real criminals to make the book as accurate as possible. I can't speak to the accuracy of the criminal lingo and lifestyle, but every few chapters there was the clunk of inaccurate science or engineering. I'll read his next book, but I hope the publisher will fact-check it better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I mean the storyline is not plausible. Do you remember the tv show Mission Impossible? It was doing the same thing back then. No sequels please.
booksandwine More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've read this year! Could not put down this page turining novel. It is gritty, adrenaline elevating, pulse pounding action story of a ghostman sent in to clean up an Atlantic City heist that has gone terrible wrong. There are scenes written with such intensity that your heart will be racing. The characters are intriguing and the story is so engrossing. I can't wait for the next book from this dedut author.
Randolph-J_Stevens More than 1 year ago
Graduates from Reed College (Portland) the same day his novel is published. Truly a mind like few others. And it delivers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Roger Hobbs has donee a great job! Keeps you guessing right up to the end. Can't wait to read his next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good reading. Action moved at good pace.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any fan of noir will see shades of some of the best noir novelists of all time. If this is his first effort I can't wait until he matures a bit. For those giving this book less than 5 stars they dont understand the genre. It is about bad people doing bad things to other bad people and getting away with it. Think the Parker novels from Westlake. This guy gets it and will only get better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad criminal as a "hero".
WorldReader1111 More than 1 year ago
Overall, I liked 'Ghostman.' From a literary perspective, the book is, in my opinion, a satisfying thriller. The writing is sound, and easy to read (if a bit wooden and long-winded at times); the characters are believable and functional; the story is engaging and coherent (though it does wax hyperbolic towards the end, I thought). As a novel, 'Ghostman' didn't quite knock me out of my socks, but it was solid enough for me to finish it without issue. However, what I found most worthwhile about the book is its intellectual aspect. Namely, the author did a good job of exploring the unconventional psychology and novel logistics which factor into crime, as to present an interesting (and quite valid) sociological study. This element was what I hoped for when buying the book (since, in my experience, such fictional depictions can serve as powerful learning tools, as to yield real-world, universal knowledge about things with no relation to crime), and I was not disappointed. By seeing things through the Ghostman's eyes (however imaginary or theoretical they may be), I was forced to reexamine the world and my place in it, thus gaining some perspective and a more sound understanding of myself -- and all from a work of fiction, no less. Cool. All in all, I finished 'Ghostman' feeling equally educated and entertained. Good stuff. My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service.
jbcope01 More than 1 year ago
Good read, enjoyed it, but the obvious setup for a series took away from the story at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good one! Highly recommended!
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Terrific thriller. Page turner. Great insights into the world of heists.
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