THE MERCY KILLER by Hugh Fleetwood


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Euthanasia-minded terminal cancer patient meets disturbed young man who just might oblige--even if the patient changes his mind about getting killed--in this overdrawn page-turner from the prolific Fleetwood (The Past, 1987; Paradise, 1986; etc.). Successful businessman Tom Carter is into power--he treats his filmmaker-wife Carol, his mistress Christine, and even his secretary Rose like dirt--and isn't about to be slowed down by hearing that he has only a few months to live. Instead, his ad in the New York Review of Books (naturally) puts him in touch with erratic painter Rick Austen, whose devoted sister Cassie spends her time running interference between Rick and the rest of the world. Tom hires Rick to kill him, but thinks better of it after making a down payment. Too late: Rick, who's begun to tail Tom from woman to woman, is so appalled at his petty cruelty that he'd love to kill him for free. This striking, familiar situation isn't enough for a book, but Fleetwood tries gamely, showing us Rick meeting Carol, Carol meeting Cassie, Tom consulting three Catholic priests, Tom taking up with a slatternly prostitute, Carol and Cassie going to see the prostitute . . . and throwing in a serial killer who's dispatching street bums--a man who'll give the strained finale a last, incredible twist. One speedy read--the price per minute you'll spend with this book is off the chart. Despicable Tom, though, may linger in your memory like a bad restaurant meal.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: Sinclair-Stevenson--dist. by Trafalgar