As ghostwriter of the former unpopular British Prime Minister Adam Lang. He is hired to complete and revise Adam's memoir since his predecessor Mike McAra had an accident or committed suicide and was found drowned on the coast. The Ghost's job becomes more difficult when the International Criminal Court charges Lang with war crimes while he was PM, the charges related to handing over suspected terrorists to the CIA for torture. Lang, as a young man, had no political aspirations - he wanted to become an actor - and states that he fell into politics to impress politically active Ruth, who he had just met at Cambridge.
The ghostwriter travels to the Island Town of Old Haven where Adam presently lives with his wife Ruth and sooner the writer feels the tension between Ruth and Adam's secretary and mistress Amelia Bly.
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It is unclear if McCarra's death was suicide, an accident or murder. The mysterious death unnerves the Ghost, who believes the same fate may befall him if indeed McCarra was murdered because of this job.
The Ghost is certain that he is not being told the complete story about Lang's life whether it be by Lang himself, Lang's seemingly more politically astute wife Ruth, or Lang's primary aide, Amelia Bly, with who Ruth believes her husband is having an affair.