Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ghost of a Smile by Simon R. Green

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Meet the operatives of the Carnacki Institute - JC Chance: the team leader, brave, charming, and almost unbearably arrogant; Melody Chambers: the science geek who keeps the antisupernatural equipment running; and Happy Jack Palmer: the terminally gloomy telepath.  Their mission: Do Something About Ghosts.  Lay them to rest, send them packing, or just kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses...

A distress call was received from the private research centre of one of the biggest drug companies in the world.  The police went in - and never came out.  A national security team stormed the place.  No-ones's heard anything further from them, either.

Now it's in the hands of the Carnacki Institute's rising stars. They have the wrong equipment. They have no idea what awaits.  And they have the clock ticking in the background.  But they also have a secret weapon; JC's very lovely - and very dead - girlfriend...

Part of the reason I love Simon R. Green's book so much, are the names he gives to his creations. Whether they are the good guys, or bad, they all just have cool names.  It can be a name that is very specific to the type of person they are; personality, abilities, that sort of thing. They can be bad-ass names, that come straight from a dark and twisted comic book.  Or they can be a simple definition of what the character is, as in the case of the main, terrifying villain in Ghost of a Smile, The Flesh Udying.

I've never really thought about it, but names truly are a powerful thing.  Yeah, we have all read a book, or watched a movie, where the bad guy is vanquished by the hero learning the true name of their foe.  If a demon is involved, the name hunt is going to come up, it's a sure thing.  Hell, just ask Superman and Mr. Mxyzptlk, names are important.

But that's not the importance I'm placing on names in these books.  After reading numerous Simon R. Green's books, nine of them now, I've learned, anew, how powerful names truly are. Sure, the whole vanquishing through uttering a name cliche has come up in his books, but it's more in the way he uses names that I've become intrigued by.  Since I don't know the author, I'm not going to say this as a definite statement, but I'm pretty positive that he puts some thought in to the names, and that they aren't picked out of a hat.   Each name he picks seems to have a very specific function.  And I appreciate that.  These are names that give me insight into the characters's personality.  They help me understand the character's thought processes, and their motivations.

I've always appreciated the author's style and humor in his writing.  He blends satire, horror, fantasy, and science fiction, just about better than anybody I've ever come across.  Ghost of a Smile, the second book in the Ghost Finders series, is a continuation of my love affair with his work, and it's the book that finally got me to look at the naming of his characters, and the insights those names give into what's going on on the page.  It's a madcap ride through a locked building, think a traditional haunted house story set in an office building, and involving a lot more than a ghost or two. Think more on the primal level, and you may get an idea of what our ghost finders are facing.  If you think of the name he gave his main monster in this one, The Undying Flesh, you get an even better idea of what it is they faced in that building.  Like they always say, names have power, and Simon R. Green is genius at utilizing that power.


bermudaonion said...

I was just chatting with a friend about names last night. She told me the three names they were thinking about for their younger son. They name they settled on fits him perfectly and the others wouldn't have, so we talked about the way your name can define you. I'm very curious about Green's characters' names now.

Alexia561 said...

I've enjoyed every Simon R. Green book I've ever read so not sure why I stopped reading them. This one sounds fascinating, as I love ghosts! And you're right, he does have a way with names. Need to play catch up with my Green books!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

He sounds like an amazing author and blends many great elements together. Sweet! Thanks for sharing about this one.