Roger Hobbs
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Buy *Ghostman* by Roger Hobbsonline

Roger Hobbs
336 pages
February 2013
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Hobbs has written an engrossing thriller with an unusual protagonist in an underworld setting rife with menace and threat. It begins with the botched robbery of an Atlantic City casino armored security truck, a job that should have gone perfectly but for a third man acting as a sniper. One of the thieves is dead and the other wounded, barely outrunning the converging patrol cars to go to ground until the heats dies down. In Seattle, a man gets an email from Marcus Hayes. Five years earlier, the man was responsible for a critical mistake that cost Hayes millions on an aborted robbery. Now Marcus is contacting this fixer, or "ghostman," with a proposition: recover the money from the AC job, and the debt will be paid in full.

The ghostman, goes by a number of fictitious names—"Jack" in this case. He is particularly skilled in changing his looks, moving anonymously through crowds and crime scenes, fixing a situation and disappearing before he is even noticed. Addicted to the thrill of robbing banks, Jack is a professional who only surfaces when the score is sufficient to interest him—or to pay off a debt that has weighed on his mind for the last five years. He accepts Hayes' challenge to locate the missing robber and recover the million-dollar-plus booty. There is a caveat, a time limit: after forty-eight hours, the money will be worthless and, worse, will implicate whomever is left holding it.

Changing his appearance before he lands in Atlantic City on Marcus Hayes' private jet, Jack begins tracking the money, checking the scene of the robbery, replaying the action and following the steps a professional thief would take after such a heist. Marcus has big plans for this score, but they will be worthless if the cash isn't delivered to an Atlantic City drug kingpin named "the Wolf" in time. As the clock ticks down, Jack moves from place to place, certain he isn't alone in the hunt and wary of the Wolf's intentions.

Hobbs inserts chapters from the aborted robbery five years prior in Malaysia, the ultimate score where Jack's fatal mistake cost the gang the score and Hayes his reputation. Through both robberies old and new, Hobbs reveals the intimate details of crime at this level—the intricate planning, the escape routes, the time and energy invested on a major score where no detail is too insignificant to be checked. This is a rare and fascinating peek into the criminal underworld, one of violence, greed, revenge and the loyalty of those committed to a job.

The protagonist is a unique professional, intelligent and deadly, as adept at changing personalities as he is reading betrayal in an adversary's eyes. This is a bizarre world, one seldom visited with such graphic detail, filled with weapons, illegal drugs and the adrenaline rush of a job in progress. Jack is in and out as planned, leaving a few bodies behind, finally paying off a man to whom he does not want to be indebted. A true "ghostman," his job finished, the fixer disappears... until the next time.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2013

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