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WesternSFA
Ghosts Know
by Ramsey Campbell
Tor, $25.99, 283pp
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Radio talk show host Graham Wilde stirs the pot of controversy with daily themes and brusque exchanges with speakers who call in to vent their frustrations, or rant, or to gush over the popular and beguiling psychic Frank Jasper. Wilde has intense reasons for disliking Jasper, some of them personal, and sets out to expose him as a fraud.

But vendettas can consume the pursuer, especially when you lose sight of everything else. Public feeling has created a storm of interest in the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Kylie Goodchild, an interest that Jasper expertly manipulates and turns against Graham.

Graham gradually goes from being the guy who plays devil’s advocate on every issue to become a man who will risk literally everything he has to discover the truth. But most people just want to believe what will comfort them, and only ghosts know the truth of how they came to die and of their hereafter. Ironically, skeptic Graham proves to be more genuinely intuitive than all the believers.

I especially wish to call attention to how much fun the author in the spaces of his story, despite the grim subject matter. He shows fear, cruelty and humour entwined. Barkeeper Benny tells appallingly racist jokes; the radio call-in comments during We’re All Coloured Day are hysterical; and later on, when seeing and perception have become a central issue for Wilde, he starts punning ferociously.

Ghosts Know is psychological horror: it’s about how people will themselves to ignorance and evil, and how high a price we pay when we oppose evil. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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