Bounty hunter Jack Keller (Good Day in Hell, 2006, etc.) returns to hunt a murderer who’s also hunting him.
DeGroot is a stone killer with certain collateral expertise: He extracts information from recalcitrant sources. It’s a skill that has kept him gainfully employed in war theaters around the world. But now, occupational fatigue has set in, a sort of midlife crisis, and he’s been thinking of retirement. Suddenly, a multimillion-dollar opportunity presents itself. Afire to cash in, DeGroot makes an uncharacteristic mistake, and a battered, bloodied, mutilated subject expires with key information undisclosed. It’s at this point that Keller inadvertently crosses DeGroot’s path. Without knowing how or why, Keller, his girlfriend Marie and her son Ben have become pawns in an unusually high-stakes chess game. Five-year-old Ben, in particular, is the focus of DeGroot’s attack, since experience has taught him a useful lesson in gamesmanship: The sight of a son or daughter’s severed finger turns hard cases whimperingly soft. Soon enough, Keller learns what DeGroot wants from him, and DeGroot learns that in Keller he confronts his own mirror image, a man who exudes violence “like steam.” They’re a matched pair, but in Ultimate Chess there are no draws.
Nothing new, but the slam-bang action is unrelenting, and that sound you hear is the rustle of pages turning.