Christopher Ransom's latest, Killing Ghost, is creepy, very modern exploration of the psyche and self, dressed up in the trappings of a classic ghost story. Ransom exploits the first person narrative skillfully, manipulating the reader in unobtrusive ways. The result is a thoroughly entertaining - and often thought provoking - journey into a man's search for both healing and self-identity.
James Hastings had a unique job. Working as a body double for the wildly and controversial white-rapper Ghost, James spent several years of his life pretending to be someone else. He dressed like Ghost, sported matching tattoos, walked and talked like him, even spent time in the gym matching Ghost's muscular physique.
And it's a great gig. Pays for a life-style James and his wife Stacey couldn't have otherwise afforded. But exposure to the glamor and excesses of the entertainment industry takes its toll. James' script writing for his own work goes nowhere. He's on the road all the time. Stacey is left at home, slipping deeper into depression, relying more and more on drugs - both prescribed and illicit - to make it through each day.
Worse, James is losing touch with who he is. Is he James Hasting, a guy lucky to land such a lucrative gig? Or is he Ghost? Who's the rapper, and who's the body double?
When Stacey is killed by an apparent hit and run outside their home - while James is sleeping off another arduous road trip pretending to be Ghost - everything falls apart. James quits the life. Becomes a recluse. A voyeur who lives vicariously through others by watching them through a high powered telescope from his home. A refugee from life, in all aspects.
Until Annette Copeland moves in next door. An attractive, scarred widow looking to start over. At first, this seems like the perfect way for James to heal, by starting over himself. But there's more to Annette than meets the eye. Her past is full of shocking half-truths and clever deception. Also, James can't shake the feeling that something lives in his house. Something left over from Stacey, a residue. And it either wants to get rid of Annette...
Or take her over completely.
But nothing here is what it seems. Not Annette, the eerie presence he feels in his home...not even James himself. It's said that truth will set one free. In this case, the truth may destroy everything James thinks he knows.
Killing Ghost is a surreal and enthralling experience from page one. Ransom's deft narrative touch pulls readers into James Hastings's fractured world, leaving doubt about his reliability and his sanity. This one is not to be missed.
Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine and a blogger for The Midnight Diner. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He's currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he's currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at www.kevinlucia.com.