A prickly hit man tenders his resignation with lots and lots of bullets in this unconventional flash of pulp fiction.
British crime writer Wignall (For the Dogs, 2004, etc.) gets all Bourne again in this fast-paced thriller that borrows more than a little from the Hollywood adaptation of Ludlum’s famous spy. His memory and morally challenged anti-hero is Conrad Hirst, a deeply damaged (if cold-as-ice) hit man far fonder of gunplay than unarmed combat. With deep pangs of guilt gnawing at his soul, Hirst has decided it’s time for his gold watch, or whatever reward criminals get when they retire. A veteran of the Balkan wars with the scars to prove it, the British assassin believes he’s been working for a vast criminal empire for the past decade, killing anyone his boss puts on the list. Determined to escape his felonious career, Hirst decides to kill the only four men who can positively identify him, starting with his handler, a weapons supplier and a documents forger. His last and final target is mastermind Julius Eberhardt. To explain his reasons for leaving, Hirst writes a lonely, romantic confession to a dead girl, Anneke, who inspires his longing for another life. The first couple of hits go fine before a nefarious conspiracy starts evolving before the killer’s very eyes, bringing the titular question into play. Is Conrad a criminal, a brainwashed governmental assassin or something else entirely? It doesn’t matter much either way to Hirst, who muses, “The way I see it, the underbelly of the business counts for nothing if no one’s alive who can connect me to it.”
<\b>Wignall fails to fully exploit the exotic European locales, and the fleeting action sequences leave something to be desired.