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On Sale: February 12, 2013
Pages: 336 | ISBN: 978-0-307-95997-3
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Cuando el robo a un casino en Atlantic City sale horriblemente mal, Marcus Hayes, eminencia del crimen internacional y cerebro del golpe, no tiene más remedio que llamar a «Jack». Jack Delton es un «ghostman», un experto en «arreglar» escenas de crímenes, capaz de desaparecer y hacer desaparecer lo que haga falta. Su verdadera identidad es un misterio, y muchos incluso lo dan por muerto.

En cuestión de horas un jet privado traslada a Jack a la escena del crimen. Es un desastre de colosales dimensiones: uno de los asaltantes yace cosido a balazos a pocos metros del casino y el otro está herido y en paradero desconocido. Un francotirador ha boicoteado el robo, pero ¿quién más sabía del golpe? Jack no tiene demasiado tiempo: los 1,2 millones de dólares en billetes nuevos que han desaparecido llevan incorporada una carga que los destruirá si no se desactiva a tiempo y, por si esto fuera poco, el FBI sigue de cerca sus movimientos.

Desde las primeras páginas, Ghostman arrastra al lector al trepidante mundo de Jack. Con una trama impredecible, una prosa apasionante y gran maestría, Roger Hobbs nos brinda una novela que lo coloca a la altura de los mejores autores del género.
 
«Hobbs atrapa nuestra atención y consigue mantenerla gracias al uso magistral de los detalles y de la voz dura que ha creado para Jack, un "ghostman" con conocimientos enciclopédicos del negocio criminal.» Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Excerpt

1

Seattle, Washington

The shrill, high-­pitched chirp of an incoming e-­mail was like a bell ringing in my head. I woke with a start and immediately put a hand on my gun. I took gasping breaths as my eyes adjusted to the light coming off my security screens. I looked over to the windowsill where I’d set my watch. The sky was still as black as ink.

I took the gun out from under my pillow and put it on my nightstand. Breathe.

When I regained my composure I scanned the monitors. There was no one in the hallway or the elevator. Nobody in the stairs or the lobby. The only person awake was the night watchman, who looked too engrossed in a book to notice anything. My building was an old ten-­story, and I was on the eighth floor. It was a seasonal sort of place, so there were year-­round occupants in only about half the rooms and none of them ever got up early. Everyone was still asleep, or away for the summer.

My computer chirped again.

I’ve been an armed robber for close to twenty years. Paranoia comes with the territory, as well as the stack of fake passports and hundred-­dollar bills under the bottom drawer of my dresser. I started in this business in my teens. I did a few banks because I thought I’d like the thrill of it. I wasn’t the luckiest and I’m probably not the smartest, but I’ve never been caught, questioned or fingerprinted. I’m very good at what I do. I’ve survived because I’m extremely careful. I live alone, I sleep alone, I eat alone. I trust no one.

There are maybe thirty people on earth who know I exist, and I am not sure if all of them believe I’m still alive. I am a very private person out of necessity. I don’t have a phone number and I don’t get letters. I don’t have a bank account and I don’t have debts. I pay for everything in cash, if possible, and when I can’t, I use a series of black Visa corporate credit cards, each attached to a different offshore corporation. Sending me an e-­mail is the only way to contact me, though it doesn’t guarantee I’ll respond. I change the address whenever I move to a different city. When I start getting messages from people I don’t know, or if the messages stop bearing important information, I microwave the hard drive, pack my things into a duffel and start all over.

My computer chirped again.

I ran my fingers over my face and picked up the laptop from the desk next to my bed. There was one new message in my in-­box. All of my e-­mails get redirected through several anonymous forwarding services before they reach me. The data goes through servers in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Thailand before it gets chopped up and sent to accounts all over the world. Anybody tracing the IP wouldn’t know which was the real one. This e-­mail had arrived at my first offshore address in Reykjavik some two minutes ago, where the server had encrypted it with my private-­key 128-­bit cipher. From there it had been forwarded to another address registered under a different name. Then another address, then another. Oslo, Stockholm, Bangkok, Caracas, São Paulo. It was daisy-­chained down the line ten times with a copy in each in-­box. Cape Town, London, New York, L.A., Tokyo. Now it was undetectable, untraceable, private and anonymous. The information had circled the world almost twice before it got to me. It was in all these in-­boxes, but my cipher key could unlock only one. I entered my pass code and waited for the message to decrypt. I could hear the hard drive doing a spin-­up and the CPU beginning to work. Five in the morning.

Outside the sky was empty, except for a few lights on in the skyscrapers, which looked like foggy constellations. I’ve never liked July. Where I’m from the whole summer is intolerably hot. The security monitors had browned out for a few seconds the night before, and I had to spend two hours checking them. I opened a window and put my fan next to it. I could smell the shipping yard outside—­old cargo, garbage and salt water. Across the train tracks the bay stretched out like a giant oil slick. That early in the morning, only a half dozen or so headlights cut through the darkness. The fishing boats cast rigger beams over the nets, and the early ferries were setting off from the harbor. The fog rolled in from Bainbridge Island and through the city, where the rain stopped and the cargo express cast a shadow from the track going east. I took my watch off the windowsill and put it on. I wear a Patek Philippe. It doesn’t look like much, but it will tell the correct time until long after everyone I’ve ever known is dead and buried, the trains stop running and the bay erodes into the ocean.

My encryption program made a noise. Done.

I clicked on the message.

The sender’s address had been obscured by all the redirects, but I knew instantly who it was from. Of the possibly thirty people who know how to contact me, only two knew the name in the subject line, and only one I knew for sure was alive.

Jack Delton.

My name isn’t really Jack. My name isn’t John, George, Robert, Michael or Steven, either. It isn’t any of the names that appear on my driver’s licenses, and it isn’t on my passports or credit cards. My real name isn’t anywhere, except maybe on a college diploma and a couple of school records in my safety-­deposit box. Jack Delton was just an alias, and it was long since retired. I’d used it for a job five years ago and never again since. The words blinked on the screen with a little yellow tag next to them to show that the message was urgent.

I clicked it.

The e-­mail was short. It read: Please call immediately.

Then there was a phone number with a local area code.

I stared at it for a moment. Normally, when I got a message like this, I wouldn’t even consider dialing the number. The area code was the same as mine. I thought about this for a second and came up with two conclusions. Either the sender had been extraordinarily lucky or he knew where I was. Considering the sender, it was probably the latter. There were a few ways he could’ve done it, sure, but none of them would’ve been easy or cheap. Just the possibility that I’d been found should have been enough to send me running. I have a policy never to call numbers I don’t know. Phones are dangerous. It is hard to track an encrypted e-­mail through a series of anonymous servers. Tracking someone by their cell phone is easy, however. Even regular police can trace a phone, and regular police don’t deal with guys like me. Guys like me get the full treatment. FBI, Interpol, Secret Service. They have rooms full of officers for that sort of thing.

I looked at the blinking name long and hard. Jack.

If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I would’ve deleted it by now. If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I’d be closing the account and deleting all my messages. If the e-­mail were from anyone else, I’d be frying the computers, packing my duffel and buying a ticket for the next flight to Russia. I’d be gone in twenty minutes.

But it wasn’t from anyone else.

Only two people in the world knew that name.

I stood up and went to the dresser by my window. I pushed aside a pile of money and a yellow legal pad full of notes. When I’m not on a job, I translate the classics. I pulled a white shirt out of the drawer, a gray two-­piece suit from the closet and a leather shoulder holster from my dresser. I fished a little chrome revolver from the box on top: a Detective Special with the trigger guard and hammer spur filed off. I filled it with a handful of .38 hollow points. When I was dressed and ready, I took out an old prepaid international phone, powered it up and punched in the numbers.

The phone didn’t even ring. It just went right to connection.

“It’s me,” I said.

“You’re a hard man to find, Jack.”

“What do you want?”

“I want you to come to my clubhouse,” Marcus said. “Before you ask, you still owe me.”
Roger Hobbs

About Roger Hobbs

Roger Hobbs - Ghostman

Photo © Michael Lionstar

Roger Hobbs lives in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Reed College.

Praise | Awards

Praise

NATIONAL BESTSELLER   

Booklist Best Mystery of the Year   

Winner of The Strand Critics' Award  

Winner of the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award  

“A pulse-pumping heist thriller.” —Rolling Stone

“Smoking-fast. . . . The debut of a gifted crime writer.” —The New York Times

“Fast, hard and knowing: this is an amazing debut full of intrigue, tradecraft and suspense.  Read it immediately!” —Lee Child
 
“A tense and tightly coiled debut thriller.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“A stunningly accomplished debut. . . . [Hobbs] has the talent to fuel bestsellers and summer blockbusters for years to come.” —The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Richly imagined and darkly fascinating.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A super-slick thriller.”—New York Daily News
 
“Stylishly gritty and fast-paced.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“A first-time novelist who’s . . . already writing with the poise of an old pro. . . . Hobbs is an assured stylist who favors clean, precise prose, [and] handles violence with a lyric touch.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
Ghostman is terrific: lightning-quick, absolutely compelling, and smart as all get-out.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Crackling with action.” —Bloomberg News
 
“Wonderfully hard-boiled.” —Parade
 
“A gripping adrenaline rush, a dirty bomb of a crime thriller with a deceptive plot that confounds and stimulates characters and readers alike.” —Portland Monthly
 
“What [Lee] Child’s debut novel, Killing Floor, did for thrillers, Hobbs does for crime novels.” —Arizona Republic
 
“Hobbs is up there with the best. I don't think I've read a better botched heist than the one that begins Ghostman. It's a masterpiece of hyper-kinetic blocking and deep, vivid detail.”—John O’Connell, The Guardian (London)
 
“A propulsive thriller that combines incredible detail and unstoppable narrative drive. . . . Hobbs possesses a [Lee] Child-like ability for first unleashing and then shrewdly directing a tornado of a plot, but he also evokes Elmore Leonard in the subtle interplay of his characters. A triumph on every level.” —Booklist (starred review)
 
“This watertight debut [is] at once slick and gritty. . .  Straight out of the gate, Hobbs has mastered the essentials of a contemporary thriller: a noir-like tone, no-nonsense prose and a hero with just enough personality to ensure he doesn’t come off as an amoral death machine [as well as] heart-stopping scenes that illustrate how small mistakes can turn catastrophic.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Awards

FINALIST 2014 Edgar Award

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