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by Jo Bannister

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-57353-9
Publisher: Minotaur

Three ill-assorted souls swap home truths, hurl recriminations and review the particulars of a fatal climbing accident while a hit man waits patiently outside their stronghold.

Four years after the ascent of a pristine Alaskan peak claimed the life of his wealthy friend Patrick Hanratty, laborer Nicky Horn is in serious danger of losing his own. Patrick’s father, druglord Tommy Hanratty, has declared a vendetta against the man he’s convinced let his son fall to his death. Nicky eludes Hanratty’s hirelings until the night when he leaves his flat to find a man with a gun standing outside. Luckily, he’s rescued by the timely intervention of a stranger who identifies himself as merchant banker Robert McKendrick, spirits Nicky off to his home—a castle that combines centuries-old fortifications with up-to-date anti-intrusion technology—and introduces him to his spirited daughter Beth and his brother William, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Since he’s saved Nicky’s life, intimates McKendrick, the least his guest can do is promise to return the favor by doing him an unspecified service. Even before she reveals the presence of Hanratty’s determined killer outside, Bannister (Liars All, 2010, etc.) begins to use the conversations and confessions of McKendrick, Beth and Nicky to reveal layers of deception and betrayal—and to strip each of them down to an elemental essence. The setup is stagey and artificial, but it guarantees an experience as hair-raising for readers as for the three leading (and practically only) characters.

No Exit with a hit man standing in for Satan.