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A thoughtful armorer to the world’s finest assassins ponders the possibilities of Italian retirement.

His rather specialized occupation has made it necessary for Edmund “Mr. Butterfly” (the name given him by the locals—if you knew his last name . . . ) to move about often, but perhaps it’s time to hang up the tools. He has enough money. He has the respect of his industry. He has a lovely apartment overlooking a totally agreeable town somewhere in the Italian mountains, convenient to the autostrada and to Rome, but utterly private. He has the love of a very sweet young whore working her way through college and access to another when he’s feeling extra companionable. The local priest is not only intelligent and perceptive, but he smokes his own prosciutto (against the law, but this is Italy). And he has a satisfying assignment to close out his working days. The fly in the ointment is the man in the shadow, a stranger stalking Edmund as he makes his way around the village and even in the countryside where he goes to check the working of his last custom sniper rifle. Edmund is not himself a professional killer. He simply makes it possible for the pros to do their best. But he has not survived this long without a few pragmatic solutions. And it would be most regrettable if the stalker of the moment should force a confrontation here in this most pleasant potential retirement spot. Do we believe any of this? Hard to say. Booth (Islands of Silence, 2003, etc.) has no trouble creating the beautifully detailed thoughts of this cool customer, but it may be difficult for some readers to believe the combination of intellect and industrial skills. Others may find the sweethearted working girl a bit of a stretch. The scenery, however, is always exquisite.

Bitter, but possibly good for you. Like those Italian digestive liquori.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-30908-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2003


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FictionISLANDS OF SILENCE by Martin Booth
by Martin Booth