Saturday, January 17, 2015

Killer on German Radio
Killer was recently reviewed on German radio by one of the Germany's top crime fiction reviewers, Thomas Wortche. A good friend of mine who's fluent in a half-dozen different languages translated the review for me:

As of a few years ago one can observe a small renaissance of this romantic, yet often tasteless pathetic subgenre of criminal literature. The American author David Zeltserman and his novel "Killer" clearly belong to this tradition.

The story is, quite properly, nicely depressing. The main character is a contract killer for the mafia, who eliminated 28 people for his boss, but who at the end, for other reasons, blows up and gets an advantageous deal from the District Attorney. He rats out his boss and for that is freed again from a comfortable prison after just a laughable 14 years confinement.

A killer who kills well and gladly
Now he is an old, tired man who for a few dollars works as a cleaner [janitor] and must live in a dreadful, shabby apartment. All people hate him, all people despise him, his own kids are disgusted and traumatized by him. As he hinders a robbery, his person lands in the media, and we know that now the hunt for him is opened. And of course there is a pretty woman, who serves as coauthor of his autobiography, which, in light of [both] his misdeeds and his heroism will bring in a lot of money.

All will end, of that one is perfectly sure while reading, very horribly. But then Zeltserman spins the standard constellation of the Noir [genre] around, and fate is not inevitably tragic, there is worse than being unloved, joy can also be bought. Above all, when one reflects upon the virtue that one really has: the Killer can well and gladly kill.
Zeltserman makes out of a typical Noir loser, without greatly altering the environment, something a bit different: A species of neo-liberal version of the genre, in which he brings out that man whose actions will not be influenced by sentimentality. Only one thing is left over from the Classical concept: that beautiful women are not to be trusted.

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