Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet

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Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Mary Waterfall
Reviewed by Mary Waterfall
Summary: This is a haunting novella, and yes, this is a clichéd way to start a review of a ghost story, but this book haunts your thoughts long after you have finished reading. The tale contains more than one spectre and the characters stalk through the story, phantoms of their previous selves. The car, the house even the furniture are wistful wraiths, through which Peet conjures a yearning for a time of past glories and innocence. A time before war, before the horror and realisation of what people can do to each other. For a past that can no longer exist now a new generation has been Infected with evil. A unique and poignant read, part ghost story and part murder mystery, which brings an icy chill to the spine as you read the last few pages.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 150 Date: October 2018
Publisher: David Fickling Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1910200957

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Martin, a war hero, returns home from the Second World War damaged, unable to fit into civilian life. His nightmares haunted by the people he liberated, as the first person to enter a Prisoner of War Camp. An old comrade writes to recommend that he apply for a job at a secluded country estate in Devon, a post that will keep him busy and allow him to live in a peaceful and quiet place. Martin settles into his new life, as general help and driver of Mr Godley's Rolls Royce Phantom. A new start, but something still haunts Martin, and life for the inhabitants of the house begins to unravel. Very soon, they all become embroiled in a baffling mystery.

Mr Godley, an old man with his own experiences of loss and trauma gained during the First World War, employs Martin initially out of a sense of duty. They fall into an uneasy companionship whilst driving in the Phantom. Developing a bond through their mutual love of the Rolls, they slowly begin to share the experiences that are causing their hands to tremble.

It is difficult to describe much of the story without giving away the plot. Each action builds enticingly towards the ending and much of the reading pleasure comes from uncovering each snippet. There are no gothic hauntings, no creaking floorboards or dark shadows. Instead, the suspense and trickles of unease come from the windows opened into each characters' wounded heads. The descriptions of the damage Martin has experienced brings to mind Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, each pain believable and insightful.

The writing is concise the settings evocative and drawn in detail. The characters and dialogue drive the story. It is easy to become immersed within the historical period, but at the same time difficult not to draw parallels with the affect modern acts of terror have on people and society. This is one of the true strengths of the book. It makes you think, What is evil?

There is a real ghost within the tale, this is after all a ghost story, but the psychological ghosts are far more intimidating. Peet has created a story that demands reflection, that has a twist but most of all is a thoroughly good read. For readers interested in the psychological impact of war and trauma then as mentioned Regeneration by Pat Barker is an excellent read. For a suspenseful ghost story rather than horror check out Dark Echo by F G Cottam.

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Buy Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Godley's Phantom by Mal Peet at


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