John Ringo is known for writing military science fiction. I therefore was a little surprised to find out about Ghost, which, according to what I knew at the time, is a James Bond story, set roughly in the real world. Well, I’ve always liked “special agent” stories, so I read this book.
First impressions: Interesting stories; it was more a collection of connected novellas than a novel. Certainly not for everyone: there is a lot of explicit BDSM (read: very rough but consensual sex) and even an explicit aggravated rape scene. Single agent overpowering multiple terrorists. Nuclear explosions (I’ve said it before, a book which depicts a nuclear explosion, cannot be all bad). More than one miracle recovery. A protagonist who certainly is not a good person. An overall first impression was of a former military guy writing out a fantasy, sort of literary self-satisfaction. I didn’t think much good of this book at that time.
I later found out that this book was intended to start a new series. Now, I had actually heard of a follow-up book, but I had figured it was more of the same, and I wasn’t interested. Instead, the tone shifts a lot. The Ghost becomes a significant part of the main character’s backstory, but that’s all that it is: backstory. I have now read a part of the sequel, and it has changed my prespective on Ghost.
As a standalone book, Ghost is a horrible book, and I would not recommend it, because the brutality in it has no meaning. But as the prequel to a different series, it gets meaning; it becomes a sort of character study of a man who has vicious demons inside him and is barely able to control them, and channel them for doing good (and once loses control of them).
So, Mike Harmon is an ex-SEAL, discharged on medical grounds, who is a conservative jerk according to his fellow history undergrads. He likes to stalk young coeds, and one day, as he is doing so, he accidentally witnesses a kidnapping. He follows, and discovers a terrorist plot. He kills the bad guys (most of them, anyway), and follows up on the trail of other, already kidnapped women. He hitches a ride on a plane and ends up … well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.
I’ll rate this book 8/10, with the warning that the book contains explicit descriptions of extreme sex and even rape, in addition to the usual jamesbondesque explosions and stuff.