Review – Ghosts of Manhattan

I’ve always loved the movie Wall Street. There’s something so fascinating, annoying, hateful, and sad about Gordon Gekko. He’s a car wreck I can’t stop gaping at. And, yes, I like the sequel, Money Never Sleeps too. Who doesn’t want more Gordon Gekko?

When I was offered the chance to review Ghosts of Manhattan, I took it. I, apparently, want more Gordon Gekko.

Nick Farmer is a bond trader at Bear Stearns and he hates his job. Any novelty it once held has long since faded along with any interest in the parties, drugs, and hookers. Those bonuses, though, are what keep him going back to the office every day. He’s married, but after several years, is realizing that he barely knows his wife anymore and he isn’t sure he even wants to know her any longer. The job is taking a toll not just on him but his wife and their marriage as well. When Nick is approached by a paranoid analyst who is scared of what his research foretells, Nick starts wondering if the right time to get out is now.

Nick is a character I want to feel bad for. He hates his job, the people and corporation he works for, the lazy ethics of the place, and the lifestyle he, for better or worse, has become accustomed to. On top of all this, his personal life is falling apart. On the other hand, he does nothing at work, drinks, does a little cocaine from time to time in New York’s finest bathrooms (they have floor to ceiling stall doors if you must know), and charges back thousands upon thousands of dollars to absurd expense accounts without even blinking. That’s what made me want to scream at this book but I also kept reading because of it. It’s hard to understand that type of money. Absurd isn’t even the word to describe it. Insane maybe but even that’s not enough. But I wanted to see how deep that hole went and how far Nick was willing to fall into it. The answer to that is pretty far. Sadly, he knows it but keeps going.

But Nick is also a likable character. As I said, he hates his job and his personal life is circling a large drain ready to suck him into a vast hell. He knows it but doesn’t do much about it, which is probably best since anytime he tries, he fails miserably. He’s a good at heart with some decent intentions but has yet to figure out how to wield anything positive.

The world Nick lives in, almost unwillingly (he doesn’t know how to get out until he has to), isn’t his fault though and I’m not giving the character an out here. He has his bad, maybe even reprehensible moments, but there’s something about him that seems redeemable and that I could work with. I like to like characters in books, and Nick has a likable side under all the grime.

I know some of you may be thinking about this book in terms of Wall Street only, and that’s not the best way to approach this one. Yes, the main part of the story surrounds Nick’s job and there are numerous hateful people in his circle doing numerous hateful things, but there are some nice moments, some funny moments, and in the end, a new beginning. I liked that about this one.

Also, now the theme song to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is stuck in my head.

The publisher sent me a copy of Ghosts of Manhattan for review.

Ghosts of Manhattan
By Douglas Brunt
Touchstone
ISBN: 978-1451672596
4 stars

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