In this story of betrayal, lies, and frequent gunfire, one very confused individual does his best to survive. As a reader, I was quickly caught up in Roger's struggles and found myself engrossed in equal parts bewilderment and nervous anticipation.
Though initially unenthusiastic about what appeared to be a story of bitter men attempting to be philosophers, the The Ghost of A Flea quickly morphed into an intriguing tale of drug deals and the inability to know whom to trust. Red herrings abounded, and for the longest time, I was uncertain whether the main character, Roger, was hallucinating, confused, or caught up in some grandiose form of hypnosis. The manipulation around him was subtle and maintained that delicious sense of suspense that drives any good thriller.
The language in this book was as hard and driven as the plot, allowing for important details without belaboring the point by being overly descriptive. Necessary items were introduced with the same straightforwardness as ones that were later revealed to be unimportant, and through it all, that sense of dread and fascination was maintained. There were multiple instances where "passed" was used instead of "past," and more than one instance of the you're/your and who's/whose confusion. All three are generally unforgivable faux pas in my book, and had the rest of the novel not been written so well, the whole work may very well have been written off.
Characterizations here were absolutely flawless. Each person involved was distinctive, their traits consistent even with all of the acting and subterfuge woven in. Betrayals were believable, and revelations were informative without being excessively explanatory. Like any good villain, the "bad guys" had that self-defeating, hubris-driven tendency to monologue, which were like a lifeline when I, like Roger, was caught up in grasping at thin air for understanding. By far the most enigmatic character was Peggy, a woman whose loyalties were constantly called into question either to be bolstered or decimated by the contents of the following scene. The ending of the novel was satisfactory and tied up all loose ends without resorting to deus ex machina, for which I was quite thankful.
As intricate as it was enthralling, The Ghost of a Flea is one of the most surprising books that I've come across. Nothing was as expected, and I was frequently left hankering for the next great reveal. If suspense and mind games are your cup of tea, then imbibe with pleasure as you work your way through this well-written work.
(Review copy provided by the author)