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Ghost Country

A Book by Patrick Lee

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Ghost Country is 24 for science fiction fans. Y'know, when 24 was good.

  • Mar 12, 2011
From my SF Signal review:

REVIEW SUMMARY: Ghost Country is 24 for science fiction fans. Y'know, when 24 was good.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Travis Chase must rescue Paige Campbell who was kidnapped when she learned via alien technology that the world will be a vast wasteland in seventy years.

PROS: Relentless action; engaging plot-driven story; good use of alien technology; perfectly paced.
CONS: Author's tendency to specify exact durations was distracting.
BOTTOM LINE: Patrick Lee's The Breach was one of last year's best reads and the sequel, Ghost Country, is every bit as exciting.

The premise of Patrick Lee's Travis Chase novels is eloquently simple: a secret government organization called Tangent guards and studies the Breach, a doorway to another world that emits mysterious artifacts called entities whose purposes are unknown. In Ghost Country, one of its Tangent's operatives, Paige Campbell, uses one of the entities to see 70 years into our future and finds a dead world. When she and her colleagues try to make it known to her superiors, they are attacked and only Paige survives. Travis Chase, the ex-cop who worked with Tangent in the previous novel, tries to rescue the kidnapped Paige despite the terrible secret he learned that has kept him away from Tangent for fear that secret will become reality.

What follows this brief setup is a whirlwind of an adventure that is essentially the television series 24 written for science fiction fans. While we do get to learn a little bit about the characters, Ghost Country is essentially plot-driven. There is a definite sense of urgency as Travis and Bethany, Paige's trusted assistant, figure out a way to rescue the kidnapped Paige. Where this novel trumps Jack Bauer (besides its lack of cougars) is that it effectively adds cool sf tropes to the mix; and not just for the sake of using them. Here, the other-worldly technology is used to good effect. Now mix that with tense, high-speed action, throw in a dash of conspiracy, suspense, mystery and fast-moving prose, and you have a novel that this reader found genuinely hard to put down.

Of course, being in reviewer mode, I do look for elements of the reading experience that keep it from being perfect. I found one: the author's tendency to frequently specify exact time durations. For example, silence in a conversation that lasts "for three minutes", or characters would stare at something for "exactly two minutes". The specificity was distracting...and just odd. Try pausing in the middle of a conversation for a full sixty seconds. Awkward! Better would have been to use less-distracting invisible phrases like "a few moments" or "awhile". Even though it's a minor nit, it was a noticeable one.

Ultimately, Ghost Country is a non-stop thrill ride that had me eagerly turning its pages and offered a near-perfect reading experience. The premise for Lee's universe may be simple, but it's elegant, too, and can easily be a generator for more exciting, new stories. I can't wait.

Ghost Country is 24 for science fiction fans. Y'know, when 24 was good.

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More Ghost Country reviews
review by . February 09, 2011
An Intense Time-Travel Adventure!
I enjoyed this novel so much that I've ordered a copy of The Breach, Patrick Lee's first novel set in the same world as Ghost Country. A high-tech sci-fi thriller, Ghost Country starts off with the motorcade of scientists from a secretive organization being mowed down on the order of the president and doesn't let up from there. One woman (Paige Campbell) survives, and with the aid of two others (Travis Chase and Bethany) set out to stop the events that could lead to then end of life …
review by . March 11, 2011
Good premise but uneven quality
Ghost Country is the second novel in a series about a phenomenon called The Breach, which seems to be a passage or worm hole between dimensions. On one side of The Breach is Earth in the present time. What's on the other side is not clear, at least in this second book, but one thing is evident, which is that an advanced civilization of some sort lies on the other side. How do we know? Because artifacts of an advanced technology keep coming through The Breach. Scientists on the Earth side are …
review by . December 16, 2010
With all the accolades given to this book I was expecting a lot more. It took more than 75 pages to get into the story but then it got good up to the end. Travis Chase is again asked to attempt an impossible rescue of Page. This time by Bethany, an employee of Tangent, a secret government agency whose main function is to guard and study The Breach. The Breach is a gate to another dimension, from which mysterious devices keep passing through. Page is captured by gunmen and held by government …
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John DeNardo ()
Ranked #1166
Resident blogger at SF Signal
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For decades, inexplicable technology has passed into our world through a top secret entity call the Breach.

The latest device can punch a hole into the future, which is nothing but bones and ruins...

And it's closer than you think.
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