Tuesday, December 8

The Business of Dying - Simon Kernick

Dennis is a killer for hire, but he's selective about who he's prepared to kill - he knows that the justice system favours the criminals, while the victims have to go on with their lives without benefit of state housing, food and higher education. Okay, so he's only done once before, shooting a bent businessman, but the principle's the same, and for the money he's prepared to kill three violent drug dealers. The first hiccup comes when he's witnessed - a hardened criminal would take her out, but Dennis can't. The second hiccup is when he's pulled over by a roadblock shortly after the girl raises the alarm - to get out of it he has to show his ID.
And that brings him to the third problem, because Dennis Milne, killer for hire, is also a Detective Sargent in the British police force. The biggest problem, however, is that Dennis was manipulated - he shot and killed two decorated Customs agents and an accountant, triggering a massive investigation.
Kernick's debut novel is accomplished and engrossing. Dennis is a fascinating protagonist, a bent cop with a moral code that reminded me of a UK version of The Shield's Vic Mackey, and was published the year that series debuted (but is otherwise wholly different).
The first-person narrative is honest, captivating and compelling the writing is immediate and vivid, and the plot combines Dennis's back story and attempts to extricate himself from an ever-tightening web, with his investigation into the disappearance of one young prostitute and the violent murder of another.I came across The Business of Dying by chance, but after I make my way through some of the back log will be checking out his other works. - Alex

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