Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review of Killer by Dave Zeltserman (Serpent’s Tail, 2010)

Leonard March knows he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison, so he does a deal with the DA to turn state witness against mafia boss Salvatore Lombard in return for immunity for undisclosed crimes. The DA agrees to a fourteen year sentence and immunity for the chance to bring down a godfather. Once the paperwork is signed, March admits to the murder of twenty eight people; murders he’ll never serve time for. Fourteen year’s later and he’s released from prison to public and media fury. Unable to leave the state due to a pending civil action for damages, all March wants to do is keep a low profile, do his time working as a night janitor in an office block, try and catch up with his adult kids, and avoid a revenge attack by Lombard’s men. It’s hard to live anonymously though when your face is plastered across every newspaper, you’re the topic of conversation on late night radio shows, and ghost writers are lining up to capture your life story and sell on the book and movie rights. But when the mysterious and beautiful Sophie enters his life and he acts the good Samaritan, stopping a liquor store robbery, things start to look up.

Killer
is a relatively short book at 214 pages, but there isn’t a single wasted word. Told in a straightforward, matter of fact way, the story is utterly captivating, hooking the reader in from the first line and not letting go. I was totally mesmerised, but it’s difficult to explain why. There’s nothing particular special about the prose and the plot is pretty uncomplicated, though there’s a sting in the tail. But there’s something about the story and the way that it’s told that’s compelling. I think it’s because it genuinely does feel like it is Leonard March’s story; that you are listening to his voice. And it’s a voice that tugs at the reader’s emotions in subtle, contradictory ways, which makes it seem convincing and credible. In addition, the structure of the book, with chapters alternating between the present and past events, enables the reader to get a rounded grasp of March’s persona and his history of violence. Overall, a great read and I’m now on the hunt for his earlier books, Pariah and Small Crimes.

2 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Those are killers, too.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Splendid review. Couldn't agree more.