THE SHOT by Philip Kerr


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Castro and JFK are targets of dueling conspiracies in this downbeat tale, a thriller suggesting that the no-good have already

inherited the earth.

It's 1960, and John F. Kennedy has just won his narrow victory over Richard Nixon in an election rigged, it seems, by

mobster Sam Giancana. Naturally, there's a quid pro quo involved. Kennedy, we're told, has promised to call off the assorted

investigative bodies nipping at the heels of organized crime. All along, however, there have also been ongoing, very sub rosa,

negotiations between Mafia crooks and CIA spooks. The mob nostalgically recalls those halcyon days when wide-open Cuba

was a cherished money-machine. For its part, the CIA yearns for a Cuban government that knows its place (subservient) with

regard to the US. Both groups detest Fidel Castro and have concluded that eliminating him is a necessity. Enter Tom Jefferson,

whose presidential name is ironically at odds with the creepy-crawly nature of his vocation. Tom is a no-holds-barred mercenary,

born to killing the way others are to the hurling of baseballs and as accepting of his “talent” as world-class athletes are of theirs.

(“Tom would have put a bullet through Walt Disney's head if someone had come up with the twenty-five grand.”) The mob

hires him to hit Castro, but before he can implement his elaborate plan a nugget of unexpected and inflammatory information

leads him to switch targets. Suddenly, Tom's hunting JFK, which means that his erstwhile employers now have to hunt him.

A rigged election costs big bucks, after all: can you blame Giancana and company for wanting to enjoy the good of it?

Kerr's material has always been fairly bleak (Esau, 1997, etc.), but this slog through the Slough of Despond is particularly

grim: you meet only the unredeemed, the unrepentant, and the unrestrained.

Pub Date: April 11th, 2000
ISBN: 0-671-04140-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2000


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