Ghosts of Karnak by George Mann
|Ghosts of Karnak by George Mann|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: The statues are coming alive and all we have to combat them is a fast-paced slice of pulp fiction about a superhero call The Ghost who has rockets in his shoes. Sounds like a great read to me!|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2016|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
The superhero market is crowded and sometimes a little boring. Who cares about what a God-like person can do when the rest of us are scrambling around trying to avoid papercuts, never mind trying to repel a rogue asteroid. The best heroes are those that are just normal blokes or ladies dressed up in some fancy outfit. When it comes down to it Batman or The Shadow are just men, but it is their vulnerability that makes them ace to read about. Add to this list George Mann's 'The Ghost', a World War One veteran who returns to New York no longer willing to watch the criminals taking over his home town.
To add spice, this is not our own 1920s New York, but an alternative reality that has more of the supernatural and Steam Punk to it. The Ghost becomes embroiled in a new case when a ship arrives from Egypt that contains the artefacts of a God, but also the baggage of an entire Cult. Can our rocket propelled hero fight off ancient evil whilst nursing a set of broken ribs?
Ghosts of Karnak by George Mann is the third in a series starring Gabriel Cross i.e. The Ghost, but you do not need to have read earlier outings as this is fast paced fun science fiction that is more about the action than the in-depth characters. There is more than a hint of Batman, The Shadow, and Rocketeer etc. in the book, but by adding a veneer of Steam Punk to proceedings, Mann is able to chisel out enough of a market to make the book stand out on its own.
The book flips between the story of Gabriel fighting reanimated statues and the story of on-again, off-again lover Ginner as she travelled around Egypt some months earlier. Any reader will be able to tell straight away that the two elements are very closely connected, but seeing what is coming does not actually detract from the story and, in fact, adds to it. This is quality camp sci fi that is all about the reader enjoying themselves. The set pieces are great fun, as long as you suspend your disbelief. The Ghost is able to use rockets in his shoes to boost around the scene, this make fighting and escapes dynamic, but underneath it all he is just a man. Mann is just able to balance the level of damage that Gabriel takes – anymore and you would think he himself is superhuman.
The story rockets along at a great pace and the 1920s setting is evocative. Throw in the Egyptian curses and you have a clichéd, but entertaining story. A couple of elements left me questioning once or twice; Gabriel fights as he does because of psychological damage caused during the war, yet he dishes out death to many people without a second thought. This is the same with the police in the book as they come across cultists and open fire – even if the cult was violent last time, surely the police would have to ask them to surrender the next? As the New York represented here is not our own and neither is the history, some leeway can be given, but at times the gore is a little much from the 'good' guys.
Where the book excels is not only in pace, but also world design; gangsters and the supernatural just work well together. For fans of breezy pulp sci fi, they will gain a lot of joy from Ghosts, but those looking for something more cerebral, best look elsewhere.
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