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Review: ‘Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit’ light on ghouls, not on readability

Cover art for 'The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit'
Courtesy of: Doubleday Books

The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

Rating:
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The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, available on August 5, is not your average ghost tale. The novel’s synopsis aptly dubs it “suspenseful and slightly supernatural.” It’s the summer of 1976 in Britain and David, a college student, takes a job at a fading resort in a dying resort town. This choice is resented by David’s family as it is in this very town that his biological father vanished some fifteen years earlier.

Though he doesn’t fully understand why, David feels drawn to the spot, a place where it seems everyone, included David can feel the past haunting the present. For some of the resort workers that may merely be symptomatic of working in an environment well past its prime, a holdover from when such establishments were in their heyday. For others it is an inability to let go of old ways and ideals, and for David it is troubled sleep, a gnawing sense that something happened here and occasional visions of a man with a rope, always walking hand-in-hand with a small boy.

David quickly finds that waning though it may be, the town has plenty more than a vague association with his past to keep him occupied. Drawn into a potentially dangerous love triangle and riddled with his own at-odds desires, David finds plenty of life in a lost summer and a town lost in time.

Graham Joyce deftly paints the environment and loads it up with a host of characters, each one more surprising than the last. Though at first blush it might seem that a resort town can have little to offer beyond visitors who have no where better to go and quirky locals, Joyce somehow manages to loop in elements as disparate as an onslaught of ladybugs, Nazi sympathisers, questions of class, tricks of the magical trade and music without ever losing the thread or jarring his tale out of cohesion.

The pages fly by as quickly as the sun-drenched summer days of youth, leaving in their wake the feeling of having added David’s memories of his wild summer at the beach to our own consciousness.

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Title: The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit
Author: Graham Joyce
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: August 5, 2014
Language: English