1 September 2015

The Killing Kind by Chris Holm

The Killing Kind
Chris Holm
Mulholland (Hodder), 27 August 2015
HB, 320pp

I'm grateful to the publisher for letting me have a copy of this book through Bookbridgr.

At first sight, this book was surprisingly different from previous books of Holm's I'd read - his Collector series was a noir-tinged fantasy trilogy featuring an operative who stopped up souls as their owners died - think a smoother, wise-cracking version of Terry Pratchett's Death.

The central character of The Killing Kind is Hendricks, who doesn't collect the souls he sends to - wherever they go - but simply bumps off their owners. Hendricks is a very particular sort of hitman, focussing exclusively on other hitmen. Somehow he's got a line on who the organised crime gangs want killed, and, amazingly, it turns out the intended victims will pay a pretty penny to avoid ending up dead.

There are Reasons for Hendricks' taking up this particular line in crime: guilt after surviving when the rest of his US Army unit died, guilt at what they'd done before that, a desire to atone - but to be honest, for me, that didn't really matter, what matters in this book is the relentless action, Hendricks' ingenuity at doing what he does, and above all, the dramatic hunt that ensues when the Mob discover someone is messing with their plans. Of course they buy in another legendary assassin and of course we end up with a full-blooded duel - and of course there is plenty of carnage along the way.  There isn't much more to the plot than that, although there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

In some respects, perhaps, it's not so different from the Collector books. The main distinction is perhaps less the lack of supernatural stuff than the simpler plot - here we don't have the complicated eschatological battle lines of the earlier trilogy.  

Not a deep character study - they are mostly lightly sketched - but the writing has great pace and, once begun, this book demands to be finished (actually it doesn't so much demand as grab you by lapels and make you read it). There is peril. There is a scary body count scary (so much so that it's entirely feasible no one will survive by the end) with ingenious deaths. There is a world weary, disillusioned hero who has to learn again what he will fight. 

Very satisfying.

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