The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

Gone Bamboo

Anthony Bourdain

Canongate £5.99

Reviewed by Mike Jecks

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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 recommended.

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