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The Killer Is Dying
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The Killer Is Dying

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  78 reviews
A hired killer on his final job, a burned-out detective whose wife is dying slowly and in agony, a young boy abandoned by his parents and living alone by his wits. Three people, solitary and sundered from society.
In what is at one and the same time a coming-of-age novel, a realistic crime novel and a novel of the contemporary Southwest, "The Killer Is Dying" is above all
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ebook, 192 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Walker Books Ltd (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 711)
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Bandit
My second read by the author and once again I'm struck by just how much I like noir when it's Sallis' noir. And this book is difficult to like, or at the very least difficult to recommend, due to its overwhelmingly bleak nature. Then again what would one expect from a title like that. The other narrative lines are from a cop trying to find the killer and a kid (absolutely terrific character) who is inexplicably linked to the killer through dreams. There is a stunning, dark, haunting sort of beau ...more
Tim Niland
While James Sallis ostensibly writes crime novels, the crime itself becomes almost incidental to the haunted and melancholy lives of the characters he composes. Christian is a hit-man, someone who takes pride in a clean kill. He also slowly dying of an unnamed disease, taking his faculties bit by bit. When the man he is hired to kill is attacked by another pro, Christian makes it his final mission to find out who and why. Jimmie is a teenager, living by his wits in his house after being abandone ...more
Brad Hodges
The Killer Is Dying, an unsatisfying bit of hard-boiled noir by James Sallis, is all atmosphere and no terra firma. The story of a hit man who has a terminal illness, it departs from the usual mystery by being written in a highly literary style, with multiple narrators and a lot of interior monologues. But this ain't no Raymond Chandler.

For one thing, I read the book and I don't even know whodunit. The hit man, who is called Christian, has a target, but someone else tries to kill him before he d
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Owain Lewis
Meandering, medetative and unselfconciously modern. I can't think of any more words beginning with M to describe this but it was brilliant. Just the kind of terse, punchy prose that I love. Thin on plot and big on story/background but you never feel like you're being lead around the houses. Everything feels neccessary. There are cops and there is a killer but it's not about catching the bad guy. Instead Sallis pulls the crime/thriller genre inside out, replacing tension and action with a contemp ...more
Gloria Feit
The first thing one perceives on reading the first pages of James Sallis’ new novel is the literal accuracy of the title: The man who calls himself Christian is a contract killer, a Vietnam vet now terminally ill, on his last job. A few pages later, something goes awry as the man he has been watching, who he has been hired to kill, is suddenly shot - - by someone else. And Christian is not sure how he feels about that.

The second character to whom the reader is introduced is Jimmie, a precocious
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Marian
James Sallis continues to amaze me. Year after year, the tomes of some authors get larger and larger. However James Sallis produces these slim novels of fiction that are terse, poetic and defy categorization. The latest have been shelved on the mystery shelf at my library but they would fit just as neatly on the general fiction shelf. I hope that mainstream readers are wandering over to the mystery shelves or better yet finding this on the "New" book shelves that have no category. If you want to ...more
Anna
This book is shorter than it appears on the account that the chapters are concise and that it's one of those novels that has to start a chapter on the right side. So while I did find it to go pretty quickly, it was not because of any invigorating page-turning events.

It seemed promising at the beginning: three different perspectives of guys living in the same town trying to figure things out in life. One's a hitman, who by the word of the title, is dying and is confused after finding out that som
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Johnny
James Sallis writes beautifully. He creates characters that breathe filled with flaws and doubts and life. Anyone who has read the Lew Griffin series knows what he is capable of.

THE KILLER IS DYING is beautifully written with living characters, and that appears to be the function of the book. It is not the story. The story is simple, very thin, merely a frame to follow the three main characters. It's a conscious choice, so not a fault, but by doing story the book lacks a certain momentum.

The mos
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Meg
Almost poetic. A meditation on death and those left behind. The writer makes the lasts days of a mercenary hitman sympathetic.
Jerry Ghazali
James Sallis tampak seakan gemar bercerita perihal lelaki kesunyian dan hero yang tidak didendang seperti juga protagonis dari filem Drive lakonan Ryan Gosling yang juga diadaptasi daripada novel beliau.
Corey
Sallis is pretty much the high-water mark for contemporary noir, to my way of thinking. If there is someone better please tell me.
Ellen Dunne
Oh so bleak. This book is full of lost souls, disconnected and without the hope for redemption, scarred by loss no matter their age and some beautiful writing. A terminally ill professional killer, the policeman who hunts him is losing his wife to a hospice and a teenager fending for himself after being left by his drifter parents.
As mentioned, this is great, beautiful writing with loads of space for emotion and imagination. Still. A bit too much blackness and slowness and hard-to-believe story
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Drayton Bird
This was a bit of letdown for me - good, but not that good.

I had read "Drive" which was so good, so tight that I thought "At last! A worthy successor to Elmore Leonard" - as if such a person could exist.

This was equally well-written, but I found it rather obscure and hard to follow. And I didn't really relate to any of the characters.

I suspect anyone who likes some of the Scandinavian writers might enjoy it. I did, but not that much.

There were the worn-out detectives, the depressing cityscape (
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Nancy
Someone kills Christian’s target. He is one of the best and suddenly someone else is doing his jobs. Detectives Sayles and Graves buried in their own personal issues are tracking the killer but are they really? Jimmie is a virtual orphan. Mom left the family early-on and Dad follows in a few years, leaving Jimmie alone but pretty darn self-sufficient. He reads every read to folks in a home every week (sometimes kid’s books, sometimes not) has everyone fooled except the neighbor who made him earl ...more
Flannery
This is a strange book. Is it a crime novel? Somehow, it is, but somehow it is not. Without expecting much, I was very surprised and I really liked it.

The book features three perspectives: an old killer, two detectives and a young boy whose parents left him all of a sudden. The killer tries to kill someone (well, obviously, it´s his job), but someone gets there first. The rival killer fails and the victim is still alive. Our killer is troubled. What happened and why? The detectives try to solve
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Monica
This book is hard to categorize, not a conventional crime novel in any sense. It is three interwoven stories, tied together by dreams, geography and Sallis' poetic language.

Christian is a hit man, on his last job. He is mortally ill, and failing fast. When someone else botches the murder of his assigned victim, Christian wants to find out who, if not why. Sayles is a Phoenix police detective whose wife is in a hospice, near death from cancer. He wants to find the person who did the botched shoot
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Rob Kitchin
I found The Killer is Dying a curious read. It's elliptical, layered and somewhat ponderous, seeming to almost skirt around the edges of what might be considered the main story (the attempted killing of Rankin). For a short book, it's full of asides and tangent observations. The reader is given entry ways into the lives of the three main characters, small samples of their back stories, but it all remains a little bit elusive and enigmatic. One part of me liked this as it invited the reader to wo ...more
Marilyn
Sep 10, 2011 Marilyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Deep Thinkers
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down, BUT I didn't like the book. I know this sounds stupid, but it is the truth. Let me explain...

The book reads very smoothly, the poetic rythmn lulls you into going on and on. The premise of the book is that there are three diverse people who are linked together without knowing it. The characters are fascinating, especially the killer. I think that if Mr. Sallis had finished the book differently it may have worked. However, the ending left me hi
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Tony
Sallis, James. THE KILER IS DYING. (2011). ***.
I had to start this novel twice. The first time I got to page 45 and had no idea what I was reading. The second time, I took it more slowly and realized that this was not a typical Sallis novel. For him, it is a leap into an experimental form. There are three main characters – though they are not parts of the same story. At the end, when the three stories start to come together, it begins to make sense. The only thing that these three have in commo
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DR
I’m belatedly getting to this author, who has lots of chops in the crime-fiction genre but hasn’t been on my radar until recently. After total immersion in THE KILLER IS DYING, I’m glad to have finally made his acquaintance.

The plot is deceptively simple: a veteran hit man, terminally ill and hunted by two Phoenix homicide cops, struggles to fulfill a final contract after his target is unexpectedly shot by someone who jumped the queue ahead of him. Oh, and a resourceful adolescent inexplicably a
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Haley
There are many good books out there but very seldom do I find one that is just plain perfect: pace, craft, story, characterization and amazing depth coupled with transcendent prose. Jimmie, Christian and Detective Sayles all have pretty serious situations to address. Phoenix, AZ is the setting, but it is their inner dialogue that proves most intriguing while showing each man's evolution. Although they never meet, the overlap between their collective humanity moves them along their respective pat ...more
Michael
This entire books feels almost like a poem. In fact, I think it would perhaps get a better reception in that section than in the crime fiction section. If you've read Sallis in the past, than that previous sentence probably makes sense. If not, well, I can only recommend you try Sallis sometime, but just don't go in expecting a traditional crime book. Sallis only wears the trappings of crime because he must find it convenient. He seems most interested in the philosophy of the human condition, ho ...more
Dan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Birchall
I like my noir crime fiction straight forward , hard boiled , action packed and easy to understand , this was anything but .
It felt like a novel you read in school that you can analyse to the nth degree and still not fully get a handle on it. Must admit I picked it up after watching Drive on DVD. Probably nothing like the book I don't know and don't intend to find out. Just not my style I'm afraid , I'm sure I'm in the minority but hey wouldn't do for us all to agree.
Tami
I haven't received the book yet, just received notice I had won. 8/1/11
Received over the weekend. I have my current read and 1 more in front of it but hope to start soon. 8/15/11
Started and finished over the weekend. 8/22/11

Christian, a hit man, is hired through the internet to kill a mark. As he is set up to do it, someone else gets there first. Problem is, the victim doesn't die. The story line shows Christian point of view, the officers investigating the first attempt and a boy's named Jimmie
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Ray Palen
James Sallis is a name that will definitely become more prominent on the crime noir scene as his novel "Drive" was the inspiration for the hit film starring Ryan Gosling.

"The Killer Is Dying" is a short novel that is packed with great writing which calls to mind both classic crime noir as well as some of the grittier work of George Pelecanos. An aging hit-man is on one final mission --- the only problem is he is dying. He is also inexplicably connected to a law-man who is watching his own wife d
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Drew
I had a hard time getting into Sallis' sort of "tough guy" know-it-all writing style and some of the characters. Well, one, to be exact; a kid who sells stuff on eBay (like anyone?) and has odd dreams, to put it mildly. What decisive role he played in the book I still do not know. Other than that, the tale was interesting. It is what the cover says: the story of a hitman who is not feeling so well, intermingled with the life of a detective who is also dealing with death in his own personal way, ...more
Andrewphilip
This isn't so much a thriller as a story of loss. The three main characters are a killer who has reached the end, a detective who is loosing his love and a boy who has lost his family. Throughout the book there are glimpses of how each has found themselves in their current predicament and the reader develops sympathy for all three.
Roman Sonnleitner
I really, really liked this. Categorizing this novel under "crime fiction" doesn't really do it justice - yes, a (botched) crime does play a central role in the plot, but it's not really what this book is about...
I particularly liked the well-crafted, poetic, but still straightforward language, and the insightful way the three central characters are developed.

One tip, though: This is not the kind of novel that you can read a few pages of, then lay it away for a few days, and then return again la
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Shana
I received this book in the mail today as a Goodreads Giveaway. I just started this book tonight and I can't put it down! I'm falling asleep and should go to bed, but I just can't. I'm trying to figure the charachters out, and how they all tie together. It's an easy read, I just ran out of time in my day and can't wait for the morning to come so I can pick it back up and finish it. I'm loving it!

Well, I got to the end of the book which was what I thought would be an easy read. The 3 main charach
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James Sallis (born 21 December 1944 in Helena, Arkansas) is an American crime writer, poet and musician, best known for his series of novels featuring the character Lew Griffin and set in New Orleans, and for his 2005 novel Drive, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.
More about James Sallis...
Drive (Drive, #1) Driven (Drive, #2) The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1) Cypress Grove (Turner, #1) Cripple Creek (Turner, #2)

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