A fast-moving thriller with a clever premise.
Edgar Morales is about to get whacked by a button man for an international crime syndicate called the Corporation. When the fatal shot rings out, though, it’s said button man’s head that explodes. His executioner is Michael Hendricks, who has an odd specialty: he's a “hitman killing hitmen.” So the Council—a group of major American crime families--hires Engelmann, “one of the most gifted contract killers in the world,” to blot out Hendricks, “a pest in need of exterminating.” Hendricks is a killer with not just a conscience, but business sense. If there's a price on your head, he'll take out the hired killer for 10 times that price. And if he calls you, it means that “someone, somewhere, want[s] you dead.” The plot weaves the storylines of both killers in with that of FBI Special Agent Charlotte “Charlie” Thompson, who wants to catch the two men. Hendricks is the most complex of the characters, hence the most interesting. He's a Special Forces veteran thought by most people, including his former girlfriend, to have been killed in Afghanistan. His code prevents him from killing innocents, unlike Engelmann, the flat-out evildoer who relishes the pain and suffering of others. Hendricks’ worldview comes out of his crucible of pain, while Engelmann just grew up bad; he will happily kill you and have a good night’s sleep. Meanwhile, Charlie and her partner try to track both men down. The three main characters play their roles well—Charlie is appealing, Hendricks is the semisympathetic antihero, Engelmann is just plain vile, and they're all smart.
Who will best whom is by no means obvious in this fast-moving, witty tale of good guy versus bad guy versus worse guy.