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Billy Summers


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The latest book by Stephen King.

 

Billy Summers is an ex-US Marine. He was a sniper and killed many people whilst on tours of duty in Iraq. On leaving the military he is recruited by a ‘handler’ who provides him with work as a hitman. But Billy will only kill ‘bad men’, people who in Billy’s eyes have done very bad things and probably deserve to die.

 

One day Billy gets a call from a known associate with a too big to miss offer of two million dollars to do a hit. The man is a ‘bad man’ and with the money Billy can finally retire and disappear using one of his already established aliases.

Up until this point the story is tight and believable, we hear how Billy moves to an area close to the intended hit, rents a house, has a cover story etc, and prepares for the hit.

 

But of course, something goes wrong, and the story then moves in a slightly different direction. It is a story of revenge now. As to be expected from King, the story is fast paced, the characters well drawn, a definite page turner. And this is a straight novel, no twisting reality, no supernatural just a story to be told and it is told well. Except for my comments in the spoiler part below.

 

Spoiler

There was only one part that didn’t quite work for me. Whilst biding his time in a safe house after the hit, waiting for things to settle down in the town so he can drift away without being noticed, late at night a young woman is dumped outside the safe house. Thrown out of a van and left to survive or die.

Billy decides that if he leave the woman on the street eventually the police will turn up and then they’ll do the knocking on doors thing and Billy doesn’t want that. So, he takes the woman in, she has been drugged and raped. And this is the thing that I never quite reconciled myself with in the book. The woman accepts Billy’s story, and they bond, they don’t become sexual partners, age difference and recent experience etc but they connect and eventually when Billy goes on the road for his revenge, she goes with him. And even at the end of the book that still didn’t work for me.

I’m approaching this from very far outside of the knowledge/comfort zone being a man who has never (fortunately) experienced anything like rape. But I can’t quite believe having gone through the trauma of the rape etc the woman would then just attach herself to Billy and go on the road with him. I understand Stockhausen syndrome and can see that it could partly apply here but it still didn’t work for me.

 

Apart from that the book is a good story. Not one of his best but far from one of his worst.    

 

 

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