In Hollifield’s debut action-thriller, an assassin’s involvement with the widow of his latest target takes an unexpected turn when other hired killers target him.
Thavian Harrison is a simple man who keeps to himself, enjoys the opera, and kills people for a living. He compromises his steadfast professionalism when he becomes consumed with finding the link between his most recent hit, Alan Clarke, and his client, Emmanuel Brightman. He approaches Clarke’s widow, Becky, while pretending to be an insurance consultant, and quickly has his answer: Emmanuel is Becky’s father. That should have been the end of it, but then would-be muggers attack Thavian and Becky in a restaurant parking lot. When Thavian’s houseboat, the Halfgalleon, is later rocked by a full-on assault of armed thugs, there’s no doubt that someone’s put a hit on the hit man. The story diligently establishes Thavian from the start as a meticulous killer who avoids attention as much as possible. Like any hero in an unscrupulous line of work, he has his own brand of ethics: He refuses to perform hits based on pure vengeance. Hollifield portrays many other characters as clear-cut villains, such as Clarke, whom readers eventually learn was an abusive husband. The novel is short, but gives ample space to Thavian and Becky’s relationship, although their leisure time on the Halfgalleon goes on a bit too long, bringing the story to a grinding halt. There are a few sturdy action sequences, but none tops a scene on the houseboat involving a cache of artillery. Overall, the story reveals little about Thavian; it doesn’t fully address his apparent emotional connection to Becky, for example. However, the character has a bluntness that’s not without its charm, which leads to the book’s best line, in which he explains why revenge is never a factor in his trade: “It’s expensive, dangerous, pointless, and it upsets my stomach.”
A thriller that’s rigorous and efficient, much like its professional protagonist.