United Nations editor Hunt debuts with a stylish, if opaque, noir tale about a hit man who falls in love, takes a break, and incurs the wrath of his organization. In an unnamed foreign city, an unnamed man meets an unnamed woman who asks for help purchasing a stapler. Several linguistic hurdles later, he’s smitten and decides to go on holiday, but first he must cancel the assignment he’d just accepted. Unfortunately, his resignation is not well received and, upon his return, he undergoes “Disaffirmation”—interrogation and torture—and the love of his life vanishes. Years later, still obsessed, he goes on searching for her, but his organization, which has “Recuperated” him, is not happy with his preoccupation. After learning that she might have been killed, he goes berserk and is again subjected to “Disaffirmation.” He’s then sent to another city and left to figure out his fate. He is housed, fed, observed, and seduced by an older woman who blindfolds him before taking him to her bed, and slowly he comes to accept the fate he had pretty much expected.
The mystery runs at all levels here, and the style and situation have appeal, but this is more a story for puzzle solvers than lovers of literary daring.