Life for Roger Davis is mundane, he works a job that sucks the energy from him, he is married to Natalie, unhappy with how their love has warped since marriage, and one of his best friends Gideon, while a great person to talk philosophy with, has a keen and cutting mind, and a way of making Roger feel very small.
As he spends his usual one night a week with Gideon, defending his life and defending his wife, he is ready to snap. Gideon seems to see this and changes direction with their conversation, talking about all kinds of nonsensical things. He finally brings out a small panel, painted in tempura, asking Robert what he thinks of it. Robert is about done, feeing that Gideon is again setting him up, but Gideon just replies that the painting is a copy of one hanging in London, and is called “The Ghost of a Flea.” As Gideon tries to get Roger to relax, he invites him as he always does during their weekly meeting, to have a smoke. Tonight Roger finally gives in. He has never smoked marijuana before in his life, and he is amazed how calming it is.
Life as he knows it has just changed for Robert. All of a sudden things begin to happen. He hears conversations that are not happening; he loses things, but when he looks again they are exactly where he thought they should be. He gets called into a meeting by one of his work colleagues, and when he shows up no one else is there. When questioned, his friend knows nothing about a call. He initially wonders if it is a side effect from the marijuana, but when he discusses it with Gideon he is assured that it would not affect him in that way. Here he also meets Peggy Curtis, a good friend of Gideon‘s, a very attractive woman that actually comes on to him. He is worried and frustrated, unable to understand the mind games that he feels are being played on him.
Then his friend Gideon is found brutally murdered, shortly after Roger has left his apartment. And as he tries to figure out the pieces, he runs into Peggy again. Not sure what her part in all of this is, he is distrustful, but she knows so much of what is happening. As they work together to find the clues, at every turn, someone they have been close to or in contact with is found murdered. And who do they go to; even the police seem to be involved? Natalie, his wife, has gone off the deep end. She has moved out of their home, but even then Robert can not go home; he is now a suspect. As his friends are murdered, a young girl is kidnapped, and he is now on the run for his life.
He has been cut off from everyone he has known and his only ally, Peggy, is possibly at the root of everything happening to him. Who does he trust and will he be able to find Cathy, the young girl, in time? He holds the key to it all, a puppet on the string, dancing in what ever way he is directed. But who is the puppet master? He is known only as the Clown. In this fast paced story of greed and murder, will the winner take it all?
This is a well written and fast paced book. The Ghost Of A Flea is full of surprises and constantly keeps you on your toes, wondering what will happen next. Peggy is a strong heroine, while Roger is a very weak counterpart. As the story progresses, he gains strength and confidence and actually seems to enjoy some of the action. The characters are well developed and written with exacting detail. It is easy to see them in your mind as the action takes hold. As the plot thickens it gets a little confusing, as almost every one that Roger runs into is suspect. Are the police on the take? Who do they trust when every were they turn there is murder and madness? Roger tries to steer clear of the danger, but when everyone and every thing he holds dear is threatened he calls on his strength and cunning to find the mastermind. Only then will all be made clear, and the madness find an ending. John Brinling veers left, then right, and then somewhere in the middle in this madcap game of suspense.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves suspense and mystery. Be prepared to be surprised and on the rollercoaster ride of your life. The twists and turns keep coming, and it is anyone’s guess where it will all turn out. And, really, in the end, it is a love story of note. Not everything is as it seems.