SLAUGHTER MUSIC by Russell James


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 Whether or not he's related to Bill (Club, above), Russell James is equally a connoisseur of British lowlife. Here, he spins the sentimental education of Tim Hawk, a vicious blank slate out of Clockwork Orange whose only two emotions are faithfulness to his boss, mobster Al Kazan, and a love of Handel. From the moment he begins to plan his first kill--rival gangster Clive Darren- -Hawk wants nothing but what's good for Kazan; but things start to unravel when he can't help leaving an untimely witness alive, and Darren's widow turns out to be a more active heiress than anybody could have expected. Meanwhile, Kazan, besotted with Irena, the child-wife he's brought back from Ukraine, doesn't notice that his soldiers and power are slipping away, or that his wife is even more attached to Hawk than to him. The characters revealed in the flash of bullets and Guy Fawkes fireworks are so elemental, so flatly devoid of complexity, that it takes quite a while to realize that James (Payback, 1993, etc.) is writing a study of loyalty, a quirky British remake of The Glass Key. If Russell and Bill James aren't related, they should stay far apart from each other. If they are, their family reunions must be worthy of those of the other James brothers, Jesse and Frank.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1995
ISBN: 0-88150-333-9
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Countryman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995


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