I finished reading GHOSTS OF WAR yesterday. This "steam punk superhero" novel is the second in The Ghost series by British science fiction author George Mann. If you'd like to know more about this author, there's a link to his website posted in the "my favorite blogs" section of this blog.
GHOSTS OF WAR follows close upon the heels of the debut Ghost novel, GHOSTS OF MANHATTAN, which I recently gave a highly favorable review to. To bring you up to date, it's New York City, 1927. The U.S. and Great Britain are involved in a Cold War after the events of WWI. Automobiles run on coal-fired steam, rocket launched biplanes and police dirigibles fill the skies and the Ghost, a masked, cloaked vigilante roams the city at night fighting bizarre criminals and monsters. The Ghost is wealthy playboy Gabriel Cross, a WWI vet who is haunted by his war-time experiences. He's aided in his war on crime by police detective Felix Donovan, one of the few clean cops in a police department rotten to the core with corruption.
In GHOSTS OF WAR, The Ghost and Donovan, along with Gabriel's newly returned girlfriend, Ginny, race against time to prevent an outbreak of war between the U.S. and Great Britain. They're aided by a British spy who has learned the secrets of the insane plot hatched by a cabal of wealthy and powerful politicians and businessmen.
The scheme involves a gigantic airship, The Goliath, that carries a gateway to another dimension within it's cargo hold. The gateway will allow Lovecraftian "things" to enter our world and wreak havoc. The plan is to unleash these deadly weapons over the city of London, sparking a world war in which the UK will be decimated and the U.S.A. reign supreme.
Also figuring in this plan is a leprous cyborg of a mad scientist (part man, part steam driven machine) who has built a small squadron of mechanical raptors, hideous beasts composed of brass skeletons, shoulder mounted propellers, bat-like wings, razor sharp talons and glowing red eyes. I can just picture these things as animated by the great Ray Harryhausen. They're a combination of the skeletons and the harpies from JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.
The Ghost, Donovan, Ginny and Rutherford are hopelessly outmatched and outgunned but they never give up and are determined to fight to the death to prevent total disaster. I inhaled the last fifty pages in one sitting, turning the pages as fast as I could, my senses reeling from a climax that involves the giant airship, a lone bi-plane, a multi-tentacled creature on the loose and a spinning ferris wheel of doom. It's pure, adrenaline fueled pulp action of the highest order and this material is screaming to be made into a motion picture.
The last chapter leaves things wide open for future adventures of The Ghost including a coven of witches conducting blood sacrifices, a female bank robber who can apparently walk through walls and a dangerous new drug being distributed by the mob. Any one of these will do nicely Mr. Mann and I sincerely and earnestly hope that we get to read all three of these adventures (plus many more) in the years to come.
If you love pulp fiction like I do, do yourself and favor and read both of these terrific books. They're well-crafted page-turners that are absolutely impossible to put down.