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The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

An entrancing fantasy of a young man’s search for past and future in a single summer of change.

ghost in the electric blue suit

Graham Joyce (Some Kind of Fairy Tale) explores family legacies and the struggle for new beginnings in The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit.

In the sultry English summer of 1976, David Barwise does not return home from college to work for his stepfather as the family expects, but instead takes a job at a run-down holiday resort. The economy is headed downhill, and the resort industry is especially depressed, but David is attracted to the seaside town where his biological father disappeared mysteriously when his boy was a toddler.

His coworkers are a rowdy bunch in which “everyone has an angle.” Among them, David is particularly drawn to Colin, a dangerously angry brooder, and his wife, Terri, beautiful and silent. Over the course of the summer he will find himself pulled against his will into a political association he finds hard to break. He’ll find lust and, later, love. And eventually he’ll solve the mystery of his father’s fate and build a new relationship with his mother and stepfather.

The cast of colorful characters includes some neo-Nazis, a woman with a mysterious past, a solitary Italian tenor, an unlikely pair of fortune-telling sisters and a friendly young dancer. But Joyce’s most remarkable achievement is the tense atmosphere of this slim and haunting novel, simultaneously dreamy and chilling, setting David’s preference for Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix against the backdrop of Sinatra, Como and Nat King Cole performed in a dying theater.


This review originally ran as a *starred review* in the August 5, 2014 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 6 sand castles.

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