‘Killing Kind’ Is Pure Thriller With A Smart, Vicious Twist

Chris Holm can’t leave well enough alone. His Collector trilogy — The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye, and Dead Harvest — might have worked fine as good ol’ retro-noir. Instead he jabbed a dose of eerie urban fantasy into the series, resulting in a grim, imaginative take on the detective yarn.

Holm’s new novel, The Killing Kind, is similarly restless. But there’s no fantasy, urban or otherwise, in it. What makes the book sing is not some shotgun marriage of genres — this is a thriller, plain and simple — but its lean action, breakneck execution, and a nervy concept that’s almost too perfect: Protagonist Michael Hendricks is a hit man who only hits other hit men.

Michael is a former black-ops sniper who was presumed dead after a top-secret mission in Afghanistan goes tragically wrong. He can’t tell his wife Evie that he’s still alive, so she remarries and moves on with her life. Meanwhile Michael returns to the U.S. and lives off the grid. Aided by the only other survivor of his black-ops unit, computer whiz Lester Meyers, he starts preying on those who prey on others — for a price. “Couldn’t help but try to make things right, one murder at a time,” Lester observes of Michael. As an antiheroic code, it’s chilling. But it propels the plot through a deliciously murky web of moral ambiguity and tragic compromise — especially after Michael’s latest target, a man who embezzled money from the supermob known as The Council, brings him in contact with other cold-blooded assassins (not to mention an embattled FBI agent with secrets of her own).

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