A haunting masterpiece from storyteller Mal Peet. Part ghost story, part detective novel, MR GODLEY’S PHANTOM has its own distinctive fifties flavour of cigarettes, petrol and musty interiors. As always, Mal Peet’s timing and pacing are faultless, with cinematic cutting between scenes, pitch-perfect dialogue and deftly brilliant sentences.
‘This a short novel, but it is worth reading slowly, if you can, to savour every last drop of Peet’s rare imagination.’
Nicolette Jones – SUNDAY TIMES
‘War, and all its wounds, is the sombre theme of the late Mal Peet’s final book, an unusual ghost story.’
‘In spare and careful prose, Peet describes the torment of the two men, both scarred by conflicts, haunted by their pasts and keenly, devastatingly aware that moral certainties can no longer be relied upon.’
Part ghost story, part subverted detective yarn, this tale of unhealed wounds and ancient trauma is told with all Peet’s characteristically limpid, rich and memorable simplicity.
Peet’s one paragraph describing the terrible winter of 1947 captures the awful conditions perfectly. His brilliant portrayal of PTSD and its effects is as good as any ever written. And the overall, eerie feeling of a growing sense of evil that dominates the whole story makes this a little masterpiece, much like the car of its title.
It’s completely recognizable as Mal and yet stands quite alone amongst his books, over in the corner of the library, in the shadows, a small, dark masterpiece. Martin Heath is unforgettable, unique in my reading experience, so dangerously and sympathetically real: the answer to an old man’s dire and desperate dreams. Yes, the book is all the things you say it is in your afterword and more: a deft thriller.
‘The writing is concise the settings evocative and drawn in detail. The characters and dialogue drive the story. It is easy to become immersed within the historical period, but at the same time difficult not to draw parallels with the affect modern acts of terror have on people and society. This is one of the true strengths of the book. It makes you think, What is evil?’
‘There is a real ghost within the tale, this is after all a ghost story, but the psychological ghosts are far more intimidating. Peet has created a story that demands reflection, that has a twist but most of all is a thoroughly good read.’
‘…Mr Godley’s Phantom, a short but powerful novel that, in its underlying engagement with ideas of justice and history, as well as its eerie, unsettling characterisation and brilliant evocations of place, pushes Peet’s standing significantly beyond anything his previous work might have suggested. In fact, it is something close to a masterpiece – a glorious one-off, beautifully told, with a narrative that is daringly simple right up until the point when it becomes very complicated indeed.’
‘This is a profound, elegant novel that achieves greatness by creating its own, self-regulating world in which ordinary logic does not apply – a dreamworld, if you like, but no less real for that.’
John Burnside THE GUARDIAN