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The Kills (The Kills #1-4)

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  514 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
This is The Kills: Sutler, The Massive, The Kill, The Hit. The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. It begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters and genres, there will be no more ambitious or exciting novel in 2013. In a ground-breaking collaboration between author and publisher, Richard Hou ...more
Hardcover, 1024 pages
Published July 18th 2013 by Picador (first published January 1st 2013)
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Sara Laor my answer is: no. I read 500 pages (half!) and then decided to abandon ship. The beginning is very promising, but then the narrative gets lost as it…moremy answer is: no. I read 500 pages (half!) and then decided to abandon ship. The beginning is very promising, but then the narrative gets lost as it switches between characters and they all become "victims" of some kind. Good to skip.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paul Bryant
Apr 07, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, novels

If you are going to tell your story in such a tired, affectless, slumped way, you better have plenty of stuff happening. If you don’t have much happening (look, this guy thought about doing some online banking, but then he didn’t) , then you better have some good jokes or at least some local colour that we can’t get from a travel guide or a tv documentary. If you don’t make me care about who stole what money from which government and who did or didn’t get blown up by which fake organisation then
Sep 16, 2013 Lee rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
The Kills is a quartet of novels that is meant to transcend such limiting labels as a particular genre. And in some respects it achieves that lofty goal.

Take the first of the four parts, Sutler. It's definitely not a thriller. At one point the main character misses a bus. He then hangs around a bit, then catches the next bus. At another point he tries to do some online banking, but the webpage times out, so he doesn't bother. This is the kind of gritty realism that I could get from a high defini
Jul 03, 2014 James rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
A perplexing read. Usually half way through a book I will read the goodreads reviews and find myself vociferously agreeing with all those reviews which have the good taste to reflect my own views. This time I agreed with the one star reviews and with the five star reviews. At times this book felt like reading a "war and peace" for our times. In the Kills Tolstoys broad sweep of history propelling the characters inexorably forward is replaced by a sort of chaos theory where the greed of one indiv ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Gerhard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Note: Minus one star for the inordinate number of typos and missing words. Evidence of sloppy copy editing, it is highly irritating in a novel of such length and complexity. Having said that, this is the fastest I have ever burned through a novel of over 1 000 pages. The Kills is simply incendiary. Once you begin reading, it is nigh impossible to stop.

I gave a grim little smile and heaved a huge sigh of relief when I reached the end (well, what counts for the ending in a meta-novel that constitu
Sep 13, 2014 Aengus rated it it was amazing
"The Kills" is a sprawling quartet of gut wrenching thrillers. While each can be read separately, it's apparent they're meant to be read as one whole book. In "Sutler", the title character is a consultant for a construction company in Iraq, on the run after embezzling millions of dollars. Or maybe he's a fall guy for a larger conspiracy . . . "The Massive" centers around a company of working stiffs at an illegal burn site in the midddle of the Iraqi desert. Exposed to dangerous toxic waste, cut ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Demis rated it it was amazing
My favourite book in the Booker 2013 Longlist, and possibly my favourite book/s read in 2013 so far.

This Telegraph review sums up my feelings pretty well - an epic read, bursting with complexity, brutality, and meticulous planning, without sacrificing on giving even the smallest and most tangential characters heart and three-dimensionality. I found the multimedia aspect (I read the 'expanded editions') a little jarring and tagged-on at first, but by somewhere in the second book was completely o
Cornelius Browne
Oct 05, 2013 Cornelius Browne rated it really liked it
Modelled on a masterpiece (Roberto Bolano's cerebral epic 2666) this is a similarly monumental book (over 1000 pages long) that likewise takes an oblique approach to storytelling. In short, it's a stunner. It eschews beautiful prose for confident writing that gets the job done, but often this job is the creation of a clammy, suspenseful atmosphere that infuses into the reader's life, and it's fascinating to see writing of this kind put to that use. Clouds of dread hang over the best pages of The ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Mary-anne rated it did not like it
I don't need a book to end with a nicely wrapped package and a big bow, but come ON! The way this book was marketed, I thought that things would come together and that there would be some sense to the thing. I feel mislead. This book could have, should have, been edited way down. There were hundreds of pages of rolling pin reading - just going back over the same thing over and over and over again. So why didn't I just put it down? Because the book started off so good. I thought the author was go ...more
Rosario (
This was part of my read of Man Booker-nominated books. I started with Harvest, which I really liked, and that one was a pretty quick read, so I was feeling confident. Plenty of time to read several before the shortlist was announced!, I thought. And then The Kills happened. This book by Richard House was one I wasn't sure would get on the shortlist, but it sounded pretty experimental and like it was hard work, which I thought the judges might value after that whole "readability" row a couple of ...more
Ben Dutton
Sep 08, 2013 Ben Dutton rated it really liked it
At over 1,000 pages, The Kills is by far the longest novel on the 2013 Man Booker Prize longlist. It is by novelist, Richard House, and comes trumpeted as a multimedia experience, for House is also a filmmaker and there are short films that add to The Kills experience when viewed online or embedded in the digital edition.

The Kills is actually four novellas grouped together (the spine of the hardback states that these are Books 1 – 4, novellas individually titled Sutler, The Massive, The Kill and
Aug 09, 2014 Jpmist rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2013 Antonomasia marked it as abandoned
The only book on this year's Booker longlist I didn't finish. The writing style too often made an exciting subject boring. I gave up about 3/4 of the way through The Massive. The characterisation in that second part was very flat. (Still wonder if it was deliberate, to represent the ordinariness of the people and the nature of the environments they were stuck in.)

Still, I am grateful to House and the judges for kickstarting my John Le Carre addiction. I didn't expect to find a thriller as tediou
May 03, 2015 Carina rated it it was ok
So intense and purposeful at the beginning, so very full of potential. The first book set the puzzle, the second acted as a prequel to the first. Both were intriguing and enjoyable.

And then just got lost. The third book was barely related, a sideways distraction at best, a whole book dedicated to explaining a very minor running theme. The fourth book felt confused in it's purpose - whether to add more links, or explanations, or just tell it's own story. It did a little of all 3, but not s
Mar 02, 2014 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Well - this book was certainly an interesting experience. It took a while before I realised that the stories were inter-related but could be read as individual novels in any order, but when I thought about that after reading them as they are presented in The Kills, I think that they need to be read as one work.

For me The Kills was a brilliantly written, intriguing, shocking and masterful. Too late, I found that the interactive web clips and sound bites could be accessed as you go along - maybe t
Aug 06, 2013 Russi rated it it was amazing
A tour de force! Very complex, mesmerizing, dazzling and unpredictable. Kept me awake for quite some nights. Reminded me of Roberto Bolaño's 2666.
The novel itself consists of four loosely-related parts. It starts as a political thriller but turns out to be much more than that. It is quite fast-paced, although there are slower bits. Richard House takes you from the Iraqi desert to Turkey, Malta, Naples, the US and Cyprus (to name but a few) and there are new characters being introduced all the t
Sep 02, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
What a long, strange ride. This strikes me as quite a considerable achievement in storytelling even if one is left somewhat befuddled by the end (though it's hard to know what "clues" one may have missed in a 1000+ page book read over a long'ish period). I think that reviews I've seen that stress the journey over the destination are right on here and I quite enjoyed the journey. Will likely tackle House's earlier stuff eventually (2 shorter novels). I also need to spend more time on the interact ...more
Stuart Halford
Jul 23, 2013 Stuart Halford rated it really liked it
A elaborately plotted book that reminded me of Infinite Jest and The Corrections. There are also chimes of The Usual Suspects and The Hurt Locker from the film medium. The morphing nature of fictions and Urban Myth recycling are themes that are also in abundance. Can see plenty of scope for Sutler becoming the Booker equivalent of Slender Man and expect the Sutlers to start popping up in unlikely places - probably a band forming using the name even now!
Sep 21, 2013 Murray rated it liked it
Interesting and very post-modern, but at 1000 pages, I wouldn't really recommend it to any but the hardiest readers. Quote from the book that probably sums it up best:
"and then ... perhaps someone will write a book about making a film about a story that is taken from this book which is taken from a real-life story that was copied from a story in a book."
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
I'm breakin' this one down with a review for each of the 4 books that make up THE KILLS, and I'll add each review as they post.

The Kills: Sutler (

The Kills is a novel in four parts (originally published as four stand-alone books in the UK), and that’s how I’m going to cover it, as much for my sanity as yours. I don’t mean that in a bad way, at all, but at more than 1,000 pages, The Kills could be called…intimidating. It’s certainly heavy. But don’t let th
Had The Kills not been included in the Man Booker Prize long list, I might not have heard of it. But that fact, combined with the premise of conspiracy and murder spanning the world (and 1,000 pages), was enough to get me to pay attention.

As to be expected from a behemoth of a story, which unfolds in four parts that were first released as separate e-books, the work as a whole is uneven. I averaged out my ratings of each of the books and ended up with 3 lukewarm stars.

Book One, “Sutler,” gets 3
Robert Lloyd
Jan 22, 2017 Robert Lloyd rated it liked it
The length and repetitiveness eventually beat me, and I found the plot stretched credulity too often to continue. I got to page 539, and then collapsed, exhausted.
Mar 25, 2017 Sarah rated it it was ok
Confusing and tedious. Afghan burn pits.
An interesting premise
Jul 23, 2013 Darryl rated it it was ok
This omnibus consists of four books, which were released separately before this version was published. In book 1, Sutler, the main character is introduced: he is Stephen Lawrence Sutler, a British civilian contractor who works for HOSCO International, which builds facilities primarily in the Middle East and Asia, and is funded and supported by Western governments. He is sent to Amrah City in Iraq to oversee the conversion of a burn pit, used to incinerate waste from American and British military ...more
Mar 05, 2017 Noreen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
There is a whole lot of story in these 1,003 pages. Maybe too much. The writing is great, of course, but when the characters are introduced at an exponential rate, it's a bit disorienting. There are moments of conciseness that are fantastic, such as a paragraph of a mother having a phone conversation. She is rightfully worried that something has happened to her son. The scene is compelling. But then there are other pages. Tons of pages of exposition that get bogged down in minutiae. A very ambit ...more
Gerard Tarpey
Feb 10, 2015 Gerard Tarpey rated it did not like it
I tried, believe me I tried very hard, to get through this huge (over 1,900 pages on the iPad) novel by Richard House. But after struggling through a little over 1,000 of those pages I finally gave it up. I'll try my best to share what I experienced with this novel.

First, the book is really four different stories that may or may not tie together in the end (didn't finish it so I don't know). The opening story, Sutler, tells the tale of an American civilian company, HOSTCO, contracted to provid
Jakey Gee
Sep 21, 2013 Jakey Gee rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is an intelligent, highly contemporary thriller-of-sorts. It's smart and evidently very 'meta' - built around the idea of fiction and storytelling; populated with identity-shifting, elusive characters and clever repetitions.

It's extremely '21st Century' or near-future in its scope: Middle East wars (I need to work out if he's even preempted civil war in Syria); Haliburtonesque corruption; Wikileaksy shapeshifting renegades and all round global skullduggery.

And it's ambitious, with multipl
Oct 04, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
A war novel with no soldiers and no fighting. A mystery within a mystery novel. A meditation on fraud and memory. Whatever you call it, this massive story cycle or collection of related books -- shall we call it a quadtych (my own, very bad neologism) manages despite its 1,000 page length to hold one's attention with a cavalcade of characters, settings, hurling plots and, well, mysteries. It wouldn't work, of course, if the writing weren't so damned good, which it certainly is -- the chilly love ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
This review ran in the 5/1/14 edition of Library Journal.

House's (Uninvited) thousand-page epic, first published in Britain as four stand-alone ebooks (Sutler; The Massive; The Kill; The Hit) and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013, is now collected in one massive omnibus. Modeled after Roberto Bolaño's labyrinthine 2666, the novel blends the geopolitical machinations of an espionage thriller with DeLilloesque levels of conspiracy and metafiction. In the first book, a government contrac
May 09, 2015 Ashley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Own in paperback. Book of 4.

FS: "John Jacob Ford's morning began at 3:03 with a call from Paul Geezler, Advisor to the Division Chief, Europe, for HOSCO International."
LS: "He shed his jacket and determined that he would walk for as long as he could manage, out and down from the mountain, into a field of white."

The Massive
FS: "By the time he arrived at the Pioneer Residential Home in Normal, Illinois, Luis Francesco Hernandez (Santo) had discarded his full family name and much of his pa
May 06, 2016 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Well, this was grim. I mean, it's brilliantly written, masterfully constructed and a dazzling literary accomplishment, but it's a bit of a trip through various modern hells, some real, as with the bleak desert vistas and the carnage of incompetence and corruption that is Iraq, or the existential mental disintegration of a man trying patiently, ploddingly, to vanish but who seems to end up multiplying.

There's a lot of vanishing in this book, people disappearing in various sinister ways, some vic
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author with this name in the Goodreads database.

Richard House is an author, film maker, artist and university lecturer. As well as the digital-first novel The Kills, he has written two previous novels (Bruiser and Uninvited), which were published by Serpent’s Tail in the 1990s. He is a member of the Chicago-based collaborative Haha. He is the editor of a digi
More about Richard House...

Other Books in the Series

The Kills (4 books)
  • Sutler
  • The Massive
  • The Kill
  • The Hit

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