PrintE-mail Written by Christian Bone

George Mann’s The Ghost series has always been an ambitious and intoxicating blend of separate genres – part-superhero adventure, part-pulp fiction thriller, the books also have lashings of steampunk, alternate history, and urban fantasy. This third instalment goes even further, however, and adds in yet another element – Egyptology.

In Ghosts of Karnak, New York’s vigilante hero The Ghost (otherwise known as wealthy socialite Gabriel Cross) is on the hunt for an evil cult at work in the city who are out to resurrect the ancient Egyptian gods. What’s worse, they have Gabriel’s old friend and lover, Ginny Gray, caught right in the middle of it…

Thankfully, this new ingredient doesn’t sour the concoction and Karnak is just as much of a blast as the previous two. With the narrative split between The Ghost’s vigilantism, his detective ally Donovan’s investigations and Ginny’s expedition to Egypt, each facet of the plot is held in check – the police procedural mystery, the Indiana Jones-type tomb raiding and, the one you’re reading for, rip-roaring (and ultra-violent) superhero action. Seriously, it is hard to make one squeamish through prose but Mann often manages it with his unflinching descriptions of The Ghosts’ no-holds-barred methods.

Though the novel is mainly concerned with moving the story forward, there is a certain amount of deft character work, as well. The Ghost has come a long way from the tragic loner he was in the first book, Ghosts of Manhattan, as he has now mostly come to terms with his past and has surrounded himself with allies (some with their own superpowers). Hopefully, we will see more of Team Ghost in the upcoming fourth book, Ghosts of Empire.

There isn’t too much you haven’t seen before in this novel, and so some of the twists can be seen coming, but the trick Mann pulls off is to retell these familiar elements in such a way that you don’t mind. Karnak is probably the biggest Ghost book yet in terms of the scope and scale of the story, as it fully embraces the supernatural side of things that had previously been bubbling under the surface. As such, this one is heartily recommended for any fan of Mann’s other works (Newbury & Hobbes, various Doctor Who books and audios) and those fond of pulpy superhero fiction in general.



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