Written by Claire Eddy, Senior Editor
I have a dirty little secret.
I like to think of myself as an individual who is concerned only with high minded pursuits. When trying to unwind in the evening I choose to listen to the radio. Do I turn to classical music? NPR perhaps? Well, sometimes. But often I get drawn into the chatter of the latest conspiracy maven or political pundit and sit mesmerized. I want to go to another station but I keep thinking “wow, did he really say that?” I grimace, annoyed with myself for getting sucked into something so banal, so clearly constructed to pander to the lowest common denominator. But I still listen. What is the appeal of these bombastic hosts? Is it the confrontation that hooks us, or the need to feel superior?
This whole thing was brought home to me recently when Ramsey Campbell delivered his latest book. I am very lucky to be able to work with Ramsey — I know that when I sit down to read a new Campbell story I am not only going to get a good read I probably am going to get the pants scared off me. He had mentioned that he was interested in the growth of antagonistic journalism and I was intrigued to see what his take on this would be.
What I didn’t anticipate was the level of awesome that is Ghosts Know. Campbell has written a horror novel with a twist that had me riveted from the get go. We’ve got a bombastic radio host, Graham Wilde, who thrives on controversy; he loves it when he is hated. Wilde sees it as his job to get the audience riled up and he loves to provoke heated exchanges. His juices really flow when he manages to take down a nationally famous psychic using the man’s own tricks and a bit of inside knowledge.
Things go to hell shortly after however when a young girl is found murdered and the psychic manages to implicate Wilde. What follows is a psychological circus as the circumstantial evidence against him begins to mount, alienating his lover, his listeners, and eventually, the reader. We follow Wilde through a series of odd circumstances and twists of public opinion and watch as he slowly loses his grip on reality and begins a descent into madness.
The ending left me shaken and saddened, yet completely satisfied at the same time. Campbell uncovers the nasty twists in the human psyche that none of us like to think about and has crafted a haunting novel of self-deception and self-loathing that will leave you wondering just what is real and what delusions truly rule our perceptions.
From the Tor/Forge October 7th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from the October 7th Tor/Forge newsletter:
- Sister, Healer, Soldier, Spy by Beth Bernobich
- On a Bus to New York by Fred Chao
- Grab Bag Sweepstakes