The first thing that I want to say about this book is how well written it is. The author writes beautifully which makes this a really good read.
The story is about Jack, a New York Times journalist by day, and a contract killer by night. The story begins with Jack preparing to make his final kill, himself. He is old, incontinent, his wife is dead and he feels he has no reason to carry on living. The book takes us on a journey through Jack’s life, some of which makes pretty horrific reading. Jack didn’t have the best childhood, he was neglected by both of his parents, although his father does make a little effort when he wants to. If it weren’t for his step-mother Jack would not have known what is felt like to be loved as a child.
The story is pretty confusing in parts because the timeline jumps around an awful lot. I did think that this was a deliberate act by the author as Jack has dementia and his thinking would be all over the place. For that reason the muddled up time line does work and does make sense, it just means the reader has to concentrate on the story a lot more.
I did find reading the book quite disturbing, like I have already mentioned his childhood was not a good one. The detail that is included about the killings left me feeling a little disturbed, other readers might not feel the same and it might have no affect on them. Jack was a very convincing character, especially when he was in kill-mode. The lack of humanity his character showed whilst killing his victims did not sit well with me, but that lack of humanity would have to be there for him to be a contract killer in the first place. The difference between Jack the family man and Jack the killer is vast and this works really well, giving Jack’s character the depth needed to carry the story.
Whenever Jack and his father were together Jack would hate how his father acted towards other people. His opinion of his father is that he is not a nice man. But then we read of Jack and his friend Leo going off together on one of Jack’s killing sprees and Jack treats his good friend exactly how his own father treat people. Jack had bemoaned his father’s judgmental, nasty, rude and racist side and yet here he was being judgmental, rude and nasty to Leo. I guess the author did this deliberately to show that no matter how Jack felt he was different to his own father, deep down he was really quite the same. My overall feeling here was that Jack had a nerve to be offended by his father when he acted in a similar manner.
That said, I did not dislike the book. I would not say I thoroughly enjoyed it because it left me feeling a little disturbed after I had read it. However, I could not put the book down and just had to keep reading on and on until I had finished it. The end did surprise me a little, although there is a huge hint in the book about someone – some readers will pick up on this right away, others will be just as shocked as I was. Either way I feel that this book is a really good read. It is intriguing, gripping and poignant. It is excellently written and flows really well, making it a pleasurable read.
I will give the book 5 stars ***** because of how well it is written and for the fact I could not put it down.