Fans of spy novels and political thrillers might like this entertaining novel that blends in a dash of the paranormal. Codename Poltergeist by William Joel features many familiar thriller tropes – conspiracies on Capitol Hill, CIA, local lawmen at loggerheads, and a hero who finds his world is no longer quite home. This last is quite literal – our hard-boiled hero James Halyard (whose codename is Poltergeist) is from a race of angelic-type beings (possible aliens) who monitor the Earth. After an assassination attempt on his life results in the brutally sudden death of his beloved wife, Halyard is given a new position among his kind. Halyard transforms from a valued secret agent known for being almost invisible, into a supernaturally endowed investigator who can literally vanish. Naturally, this isn’t without cost.
Much of the plot involves the unspooling of the many threads and people working against Poltergeist. He does, however, gain more advantages over his earthly enemies: In striking a bargain with a mysterious being, he gains enhanced abilities like preternaturally sharp hearing and sight, though what he loses in the process becomes clear later in the plot.
Briskly paced, Codename Poltergeist is ambitious in its premise. The writing is delightful and most convincing when the author’s knowledge of law enforcement and the military weaves into the story. We’re hopeful that Codename Poltergeist is the first book in a gripping series.