cover image The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

Graham Joyce. Doubleday, (288p) $24.95 ISBN 978-0-385-538-63-3

At the start of the latest novel from Joyce (Some Kind of Fairy Tale), a coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1976, college student David Barwise arrives in Skegness, a gritty English seaside holiday resort, looking for a job. Although his decision is prompted partly by a desire to avoid working for his stepfather, David also wants to revisit the beach where, when he was three years old, he witnessed his father die of a heart attack. He has long suspected that his family has never told him the full story. After landing a job at the resort, David immerses himself in the hardscrabble world of carnies, fortune-tellers, and worn-out comedians. His kindness and humility enable him to make friends quickly, including with, to everyone’s surprise, the volatile, anti-immigrant, English nationalist Colin. But when David proves unable to refuse the advances of Colin’s wife, Terri, the resulting tension is palpable. Precisely because Joyce is a master of dialogue and character, the artificial plot complications provided by the mystery of David’s unresolved past feel unnecessary, but, otherwise, his sweltering summer escapades make for a terrific and absorbing read. Agent: Doug Stewart and Madeleine Clark, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)