I’ve been a fan of Mark Olden’s since he wrote the Harker Files series back in the Seventies (and don’t you hate it when a publisher lists only their own titles in their author’s bibliography), but I didn’t spend much time following his Oriental martial arts thrillers. The Ghost resembles Olden’s previous novel The Exchange Students, which I reviewed in Crime Time 3. It is concerned with rogue police and corruption, it is written very unevenly, and when it finally does get going, it really delivers on its climax. Ross Magellan is an undercover detective, who is being stalked by someone. As she gets deeper and deeper into a sting operation against a major New York judge, she starts to realise that the stalker is one of her team, and may indeed be her “”ghost””, her key protector while she is undercover. The problem is that Olden spends 200 pages setting all this up, introducing new characters, telling old stories, and weaving his way around without really creating any great suspense. Then he reveals just who the stalker is, and the next 100 pages is a thrilling bit of paranoia, as Ross fights against the clever frame which her stalker has constructed against her within the police department. He also moves against her boyfriend in much the same way the villains did in Jefferson Parker’s Where Serpents Lie, but the story is resolved before Ross and boy have to fight against it. Much of this resolution takes place off-stage, which after such as frantic scene-setting really does lessen the impact.

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