Jack Horwood has settled into a measured of form of domesticity with his lover Gareth Flynn. He even manages to survive the holiday season, something he despises, without enacting his usual habit of running away. But despite having overcome many barriers, Jack still has shadows stalking him and preventing him from fully embracing his newfound happiness. When he is given the task of investigating a suspicious pair of foster parents, Jack’s painful past comes to the surface.
Gareth has always been the one man upon whom Jack can rely absolutely. As Jack wrestles with his demons, Gareth is there to provide both constant support and an unflinching offer of love. Together Jack and Gareth must vanquish the past in order to embrace their future.
Ghosts is a direct sequel to Jackie Keswick’s excellent book, Job Hunt. This book picks up after Jack’s heroic rescue of two teenagers sold into the slave trade. Jack has formed a close bond with the boys and they have become a regular part of his new life with Gareth. Unlike Job Hunt, the plot to Ghosts felt pretty thin. There isn’t much rising action and altogether the story has a much slower, almost sedate pacing. Despite lacking the meat of the first book, Ghosts is still well written and Jack is so wonderfully dimensional and Gareth so supportive, it is impossible not to become enveloped by their relationship. Again, Jack is the primary focus of the book and his growth is both significant and limited. He makes some brave decisions that we applaud him for, but the actual confrontation of his problems is somewhat incomplete and not particularly satisfying.
The supposed conflicts between Jack and Gareth were resolved almost effortlessly and Gareth is portrayed more as a caregiver than an equal character and I would have enjoyed seeing him having a plot line of his own. I feel, in some ways, that Gareth is almost a stranger in comparison to Jack and, given the depth of their love for one another, I would like his story to be more balanced against Jack’s. This said, both characters are charming and it is easy to champion their relationship.
Ghosts is, as the title suggests, a book about the ghosts we must deal with on a daily basis and whether we choose to confront them or not. The author, almost to the point of ridiculousness, tells us this multiple times. I’m all for metaphor but not when I’m bludgeoned over the head with it. Really the only one who tackles his past with any gusto is David, one of the young boys Jack rescued from the sex trade. His bravery is more than admirable and despite being a secondary character, his particular act of defiance is especially refreshing.
Overall, Ghosts was an enjoyable book with a strong emotional punch but it lacked the captivating story that propelled Job Hunt. Rather than a plot that moved the characters forward, Ghosts was more like an episodic vignette where readers had an opportunity visit old friends. Of course things do happen in the book, which is still strongly written and certainly a fun read but it simply lacks any huge wow factor. Though weaker than the previous novel, Ghosts is still a must read for anyone who loves Jack and Gareth and their amazing relationship.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.