In NO1UKN0’s debut crime novel, a hit man has to improvise or become obsolete.
The tanking economy leaves no industry untouched—even the Mafia. The organization is now run from fancy office parks and staffed with IT technicians and MBAs; even the hits are being outsourced to India. Frank, a seasoned, Los Angeles-based hit man, and his prize pupil, Joey, are worried. There’s not enough work, pay isn’t what it used to be, and the union is no help at all. They decide to roll with the punches and take an assignment training new recruits. Joey, whose wife is pregnant, has a weakness for pretty women and gets tangled up with Leslie, a prostitute and porn star. She has little sense and even less self-esteem, and when she finds herself behind on the rent, she takes extreme measures that tragically backfire. The novel also follows the stories of several other characters, including a disgraced cop, a Russian killer, a makeup artist moonlighting as a pimp and two idiotic petty thieves. With an intimate knowledge of LA, the author paints a setting rich with historical detail to go along with his characters’ fantastical wanderings. The novel’s tongue-in-cheek style, eclectic characters and ironic humor help deliver many amusing moments. With work scarce, once-proud hit men are reduced to making jewelry—silver charms of fedoras, bullets and Walther PPK pistols. At one point, Frank and Joey are forced by corporate to trade in their classic car for a more economical hybrid, but the car’s trunk isn’t nearly big enough to suit their needs. At first, readers may find the seemingly disparate storylines somewhat distracting, and some are weaker than others—the inept burglars, for example, aren’t nearly as fully developed as the rest of the cast. However, in the end, the many characters’ lives intersect and come full circle in a way that somehow escapes cliché.
An entertaining look at a hit man’s struggle to stay afloat in a changing world.