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THE PERFECT GHOST
by Linda Barnes
Minotaur Books, April 2013
310 pages
$24.99
ISBN: 1250023637


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This twisty gothic tale by Linda Barnes is narrated by biographer Em Moore, a young woman shy to the point of being agoraphobic, prone to panic attacks and in constant need of Xanax to get through the day. She is telling her story to one specific person: Teddy Blake, her mentor and the other half of their ghostwriting team.

But Teddy is dead now, having died in a car crash near Cape Cod, where he had been conducting the interviews for their latest big project the biography of film director Garrett Malcolm, who comes from a long line of theater royalty. Now, with the publisher ready to pull the plug on the project, Em lobbies to finish it. For this, she has to push herself, driving out to Cape Cod and finishing the interviews with Malcolm and others.

While Malcolm prepares to direct a theater production of Hamlet at his sprawling beach compound, Em has her own ghosts to confront and mysteries to unravel. Malcolm is definitely hiding secrets. The closer she gets to him, the deeper the danger. After all, a police detective has begun looking into Teddy's car crash did someone kill him because he was getting too close to the truth?

The story is perfectly paced. Barnes takes times drawing her characters, and we are never sure where they stand. Em is sympathetic, if a little pathetic. She's never quite likable, not like the seemingly charming Malcolm. Hints and innuendos leave us unsure of their motives. But, slowly, layer upon layer is peeled back until we reach the end, with enough twists to leave any thriller reader satisfied.

Like the ghosts that flit throughout the book, this story will long haunt you.

Lourdes Venard is a newspaper editor in Long Island, N.Y.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, May 2013

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