Michael has lost his wife in a terrorist attack. He is determined to get his revenge – not on the terrorists themselves, but on the politician who he sees as ultimately responsible.
However Kill [redacted] isn’t a predictable action thriller, and Michael isn’t quite the usual gung-ho vigilante. He’s a rather pedantic retired headmaster. As the novel develops, we learn, through a series of disjointed notes apparently prepared by Michael for his therapist, about his life, his family and the events that shaped his decision.
Michael is both articulate and evasive as he outlines how his attitudes to discipline and punishment have been shaped during his time as a teacher and an earlier brief career in the police.
He allows us occasional, tantalising glimpses of how others see him, prickly, odd, obsessive. By contrast he shows great tenderness when he describes his memories of his wife. It is a touching illustration of how bereavement not only takes away the person you loved, but the person you were when you were with them.
Michael is at times rigid and authoritarian, at others extremely open to new ideas and learning, particularly in furtherance of his planned assassination. There is bleak humour as we see the odd places this takes him, and the unlikely allies he enlists. Beneath it all is an insistent rise in the tension as he closes in on his target.
At the heart of the novel is a clever dissection of power and responsibility, in politics, in the classroom, in the home. Kill [redacted] is an original and smart literary thriller.
I received a copy of Kill [redacted] from the publisher.
View Kill [redacted] on Goodreads
Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif