Ghost Story

Information is power. And sometimes, information can kill.

"...the fact is that there is a new currency in today's world that matters much more than money. That currency is information. Who controls the airwaves. Who decides what people know. That's where the true power lies."

These haunting lines reverberate throughout this thirty-six chaptered novel and their effect is embellished by the presence of real newspaper reports, TV show transcripts and FBI Web site pages at occasional intervals in the book.

Set in contemporary New York, the story concerns itself with hard-up, ambitious writer Carl Granville, also known as Granny, who receives an offer he can't resist - to be a ghost penman for a book that Maggie Carpenter, the city's most glamorous and successful literary agent, has in mind.

Also entitled "Gideon", this book is shaped out of the Xeroxed copies of diary entries written by an unknown woman. Granville is paid to furnish the particulars that will lend the book its fictitious authenticity, all of which have been blacked out so as to preserve the identity of a person in a position of power. Granville's work on "Gideon" reveals the events leading to the murder of a baby in a remote Southern town, fifty years ago.

With the murder of Maggie Carpenter, matters come to a head and within a day Granville's life is scattered like leaves in an autumn wind, never to be the same again.

Along with ex-flame Amanda Mays who is deputy metro editor for "Journal", a newspaper that circulates in Washington D.C., Granville uncovers a devious and sinister plot...and as it unfolds, the odds against his coming out alive increase.

Wanted by the FBI on the counts of the murders of two women, arson and threatening violence on Nathan Bartholomew, the publisher of Apex Books, the pressure on Granville to make sense of his life rises and much to his horror, he finds out that the book, its incidents and characters are indeed well-grounded in reality. They do exist, and, as is every author's nightmare, they arbitrarily start shaping the direction of his life.

The novel traces Granville's journey towards the truth in all its colossal dimensions. Employing a great many twists and surprises, a bare, stripped-down and therefore easy narrative style, an intelligent structure, and an ingenious framework of events, actions and characters, Andrews brings the book to life and gives the reader am experience similar to that of a car being driven down a treacherous track with the expertise of a professional Formula 1 racing champion.

The book provides stark insights into the world of communication - journalism, satellite television, the written word and the Internet - all of which are shown to possess an innate ruthlessness, a raw power that can be harnessed by just about anybody.

In this literary venture, where Russell Andrews conceals and reveals facts with the sleek, crafty hand of a true magician, the players are big, the game even bigger...but nothing in America, we're made to understand, is bigger than the American President.

This article was first published on 12 Jul 2000.