The Perfect Ghost
By Linda Barnes
The set up
Em Moore is one half of the ghost writing team of T.E. Blakemoore. She and her writing partner, Teddy Blake are working on the autobiography of a legendary actor and director, Garrett Malcolm. Teddy was just killed in a car accident and the emotionally and socially inept Em is left to finish the project.
Em is very close to being labeled an agoraphobic (fear of public places) and suffers from panic attacks. Teddy was the interviewer and she did the writing. Everyone (her publisher, Garrett) is concerned about her ability to finish the project without Teddy.
Teddy may have discovered some information he wasn't supposed to know about the complex world of Garrett Malcolm. Was his crash really an accident and who might have something to hide?
The story is told through Em's voice so events are captured through her lens but you can also see them differently not matter what her perspective. This is a really skillful piece of writing where the first person narrative permits you to actually experience alternate points of view because of Em's naïveté. Characters initially seem flat and one dimensional but later begin to take on vibrancy and color. I didn't know where the story was going and though sometimes it was a bumpy journey it was compelling.
The story is told using three formats: Em's musings to the dead Teddy, almost as if she were writing in her journal; Teddy's interviews with the people in Garrett's world as background for the book; and the police report updates to the chief by the detective investigating Teddy's accident.
What didn't work
The beginning was a bit bumpy for me because of the story format. I didn't know who anyone was, where the story was beginning, etc. BUT! If you hang in there, the payoff is huge.
This was one of the more fascinating stories I've read in a while. While the format slowed me down in the beginning, it really ended up being a brilliant device to tell this story. The ending was incredible and could only be pulled off in how it was delivered. It's a humdinger. This is my first book by Linda Barnes and it's definitely not my last. A fine piece of writing.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)