The year is 1926 and the USA is in a Cold War with Britan. Masked vigilante The Ghost is on the trail of a crime boss called The Roman. Can he evade police long enough to catch The Roman and put a stop to his reign of terror?
The easiest way to sum up Ghosts of Manhattan is to say "Steampunk Batman." That's what it is. It's very much a Batman story with steampunk trappings. And the trappings are minimal. If minor details were changed, it could have easily taken place in our 1926.
I have to admit I almost liked Ghosts of Manhattan. It was action packed and very pulpy. The Ghost's gadgets were well done. The slight Lovecraftian overtones were a nice touch.
Like I said, I almost liked it. Here's why I didn't. George Mann doesn't bring anything new to the table. Just like Newbury and Hobbes books are steampunk Holmes, this is simply steampunk Batman. If you ever read a Batman comic or saw a Batman movie, there will be no surprises here. Was the Ghost's identity supposed to be a secret? The way Mann telegraphed the reveal was annoying when everyone in their right mind knew the millionaire playboy was the Ghost when there were only five or six characters in the entire book.
The writing isn't bad but isn't inspired either. The villains were comic book cliches. The Ghost and detective Donovan would have been killed twice if not for the villains' needs to explain things. Also, the steampunk stuff seemed tacked on and the dead bird thing was saved for the inevitable sequel.
2.5 out of 5. Maybe someone with a higher cliche tolerance will enjoy it more. It wasn't bad but just didn't bring anything new to the table.