The Killing Kind by Chris Holm

Chris Holm“I’ve been asked to send a message. Your death is merely to be the punctuation mark at the end of said message.” — Alexander Engleman

FBI Special Agent Charlotte Thompson has an obsession. Over a period of several years she’s been tracking a man she calls the ghost, a hit man she’s convinced is responsible for an unusual string of murders—her ghost only kills other hit men.

Neither her new partner nor her bosses at the Bureau are convinced.

But as it turns out, calling her quarry a ghost is incredibly apt since, unbeknownst to Thompson, the target of her obsession is dead. Well, on the books he is anyway.

Michael Hendricks was once a member of a covert ops unit sent to perform false-flag missions for the US government. When all but two members of his squad—Hendricks and one other—were killed in a roadside attack in Afghanistan, Hendricks saw it as an opportunity to disappear and start his life over.

Upon finding his way back to the States, Hendricks decided to put his special skill set to use in a way he hopes will help him clear his conscience and earn redemption—he becomes a killer of killers. With the help of his friend, tech wizard Lester Myers, the other survivor of that attack in Afghanistan, Hendricks identifies people who are targets of impending “hits” and offers to take out the hit man assigned the job—for a price: ten times the cost of the hit. People who accept Hendricks’s offer live to see another day. Those who decide to pass, well, their track record isn’t too great when they decide to roll the dice without Hendricks as backup.

Things take an interesting, and potentially deadly, turn for Hendricks when a group that represents the various mob factions throughout the US in matters of importance to them all gets fed up with their hitters getting hit. Their solution? Hire the best freelancer in the world, a creepy, nasty piece of work named Alexander Engleman, a man who savors his job just a little too much, to track down and eliminate the ghost haunting their operations. Complicating matters even further for Hendricks, Special Agent Thompson has finally figured out his pattern and convinces her bosses to turn her loose, which sets the various parties and action in motion on an inevitable course for collision.

It wouldn’t be correct to say at that point The Killing Kind is off to the races, because the truth of the matter is author Chris Holm starts things off at a run right from the opening pages, when the reader joins Hendricks on a hit in progress, and the pace rarely slows down long enough to take a breath from that point on. With a wonderfully adept mix of straightforward prose and exquisite attention to detail, Holm takes both his characters and the reader on a wild, pulse-pounding ride that unfolds from the streets of Miami to the woods of Virginia, with stops in Portland, Maine’s Old Port neighborhood (home base to Lester Myers) and a riverside casino in Kansas City (where a deliciously convoluted and colorful confrontation occurs involving all the parties—with a Hendricks client and his assigned hitter thrown in for good, wickedly messy measure) along the way. The Killing Kind’s climactic showdown is one for the ages, with Holm bringing things to life with such detail and creativity it begs to be put on film…and will leave you casting glances about your house, amazed at the uncommon use some common items can be put to in the right hands.

Previously known to readers for his outstanding, intricately plotted and laced with dark humor urban fantasy meets noir Collector trilogy, Holm has both shifted gears somewhat and at the same time upped his game with The Killing Kind. While the Collector books were universally praised, appearing on scores of “Best of the Year” lists, The Killing Kind’s more mainstream thriller setup has the potential to open new doors for Holm and expand his reader base exponentially. And this would be a good thing for everyone, because if there’s one thing readers could use more of, it’s Chris Holm penned stories.

The Killing Kind is available from Mulholland Books (ISBN:978-0316259538).

Chris Holm is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and The Best American Mystery Stories 2011. His Collector trilogy, which blends fantasy with old-fashioned crime pulp, wound up on over forty Year’s Best lists. David Baldacci called his latest, the hitman thriller The Killing Kind, “a story of rare, compelling brilliance.” Chris lives in Portland, Maine. To learn more about Chris, visit his website.

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