The Killing Kind by Chris Holm
Mulholland Books/ Hatchette, $26.00, 306 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-25953-8
Every now and then, in the process of doing the Mysterious Book Reports, I run across a work that’s so well written and the author’s concept is so original that I become an instant fan. This week’s novel is one of them. It’s been published to rave reviews by the likes of Stuart Neville, Megan Abbott, Joseph Finder and David Baldacci; all of whom are best-selling thriller and crime fiction writers.
The Killing Kind, by Chris Holm is a high-octane thrill ride that blasts off on page one and never comes back to earth. It features one of the most unusual antiheros in modern crime fiction. His name is Michael Hendricks . . . and he’s a hit man. Ex-Special Forces, he was part of an off-the-books team who did black-ops business for the U.S. Government when complete deniability was required. When a mission goes bad, almost all of the team is killed in action. Hendricks survives, but is assumed KIA along with the others . . . it’s when he walks away from his former life and becomes a contract killer. The big difference however, is that he kills other hit men. Using the skill set he learned in the Special Forces and the help of a talented hacker friend, Hendricks is able to intercept organized crime murder contracts. He contacts the condemned individual, tells them they’ve been green-lighted to be liquidated, and offers to save them by killing the killer . . . for a fee of ten times the contract price. He’s good at it. So good in fact, that organized crime is feeling the effects of Hendricks’ work, and it’s costing them money. A lot of money. They don’t know who Michael Hendricks is, but that doesn’t stop them from hiring the services of the best European assassin in the world and putting a one million dollar bounty on the head of the unknown hit man. And so begins an exquisite and protracted game of cat-and-mouse in which no one is safe from sudden death . . . not even the woman Hendricks loves and lost, who’s pregnant with another man’s child. The novel is a propulsive, and hard-edged thrill ride from the first page to the last as Michael Hendricks dispenses his own brand of justice, according to his own set of rules. Like all great antiheros, he exhibits both good and bad characteristics and it’s left to the reader to decide which carries the most weight. One thing’s for sure, The Killing Kind will smack into your consciousness like a 225-grain hollowpoint. I’m all in.