THE SHOT, Philip Kerr
Kerr's A FIVE YEAR PLAN was set in Florida, and now, after trips to Tibet and into space, he has gone back there. Back in time, as well, to 1960: Ike's vice-president is losing to JFK; JFK is partying with Frank Sinatra, and Frank's pal Sam Giancana is worried about losing his gambling connections in Cuba. Tom Jefferson, former crackshot in US forces and now a freelance assassin is being hired to take out Fidel Castro.
When we first meet Tom he is on a job for the Israelis - they think they can't get two Nazis out of Argentina. So Tom is on the job to take out the next worst man after Eichman. From his sniper's nest on top of a wardrobe he finds no problem in doing his job in shooting his man across the street. And he finds no problem in taking his golf bag and getting back to the good ole USA. In fact, if we can learn anything it is that it is easy to go anywhere and do anything for a man like Tom. When he starts moving with Giancana's men we discover how ruthless he can be - introduced to a man who knows him from somewhere Tom does not bother to use the connection to bond with the gangsters, he follows Huber Lanz to a showing of PSYCHO and garrottes him during the shower scene. For added piquancy Tom realises that Janet Leigh resembles his own girlfriend.
Is it her death - possibly murdered with an enema - that sends him over the edge? And Kennedy - by page 148 Giancana wants him whacked - what is Tom going to do about him? And disappearing after taking Giancana's money - could it ever be a good idea?
The good guys, the bad guys, our hero, the CIA and the FBI - they all know each other. But only sometimes, and they don't know what anyone is planning or why. They are all investigating and they all make discoveries, including the bodies on the way. None of them can catch up with Tom, though, as he heads towards Harvard Yard and a date with Kennedy.
Just as in A FIVE YEAR PLAN, Kerr ends with a big "kicker" - this is not DAY
OF THE JACKAL re-written, but it lacked something as it went along - there are no
small achievements or engines along the way which caused me to start, and then
made me begin reading again at a higher level, moving towards that final big kick.
This was a smooth slope to the climax, and I would have preferred something more
like a staircase with more minor plots resolved along the way.
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