Reviewed by Mike Jecks
| There are enough people
who have read Bourdain's 'memoir/deranged rant' KITCHEN
CONFIDENTIAL for Anthony's name to need little introduction, so
I won't bother. This, however - at least I sincerely hope I'm
right - isn't a memoir.
Imagine, if you can, a professional hitman
and his immoral wife. Where would they live? It's not easy to
live safely in the States, so a truly successful, self-employed
killer might instead live in a quiet Caribbean hideaway.
All their money goes on booze, occasional
spliffs, and a generous amounts of sex and sunbathing. Enough to
tempt you? It certainly sounds better than life in England's
South East (he says, glancing at the rain falling outside).
It should all be screwdrivers and screwing
on the beach, until Henry's asked to do one more job. Henry is
not just a good hitman, he's about the best. That's why Jimmy, a
New York Mafioso, asks him to a meeting to discuss a special
job. Another Mafia boss, Charlie, is in his way, and Jimmy wants
the obstacle removed. For almost a quarter of a million dollars
Henry is prepared to help. He goes up to the site, kills one
man, and almost kills Charlie, sees him fall. That's fine, and
he's out of there and on his way home quickly, where the money
is ready and waiting.
If only life was that easy. Henry hasn't
killed Charlie. Charlie is a tough old man, and the bullet
rattled about inside him, but he survived. While in hospital,
and while he's drugged, the FBI fool him into thinking he
admitted to several crimes. Disorientated, he finally agrees to
join the witness protection programme and turn state's evidence.
So under the protection of some Federal marshals, he is taken
away to a safe place.
Unfortunately, it's a nice quiet island in
the Caribbean. Not the sort of coincidence Henry likes. Still,
he bears the old man no ill will. It was only a job, and he did
do his best.
Still more unfortunately, Jimmy has a
different view on things. He reckons Henry didn't come up with
the goods on this job. Not only is Charlie alive, he's also
singing all sorts of tunes Jimmy doesn't want the Feds to hear.
So now he's got to arrange a second hitman, a brutal Irishman,
to hunt down Charlie and kill him. And if he hears where Henry
is, he can take care of him as well. All in all, it makes for a
tough life for a hitman who only wants to laze in the sun.
Brilliant, utterly brilliant. Fun,
imaginative, inventive, irreverent, immoral and sometimes plain
daft. It's a mixture of Modesty Blaise and First Blood, and it's
a perfect book to take with you on holiday. Thoroughly