Maddy's Reviews > Who is Conrad Hirst?

Who is Conrad Hirst? by Kevin Wignall
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's review
May 29, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2007-reads
Read in November, 2007

RATING: 4.25

How does a hit man give up his career and go on to live the life of a normal man? That's the dilemma that faces Conrad Hirst, who is burned out and only too aware of how barren he has become emotionally. He's only 32 years old, but his most recent hit shatters him and destroys his willingness to continue his nihilistic life. He arrives at a simple answer—he must kill the only four people who know his identity. After that, he should be able to put away his assassination tools and settle into life behind a white picket fence.

But we all know that isn't possible, don't we? Hirst may think there are only four people who know who he is, but he hasn't considered the people behind the people. It isn't until after he's eliminated the first person on his list that he becomes painfully aware of how badly he's miscalculated, and how bleak his future looks. After all, he can't kill off an entire intelligence agency. But he can target some specific individuals who he views as contributing the most to his downfall. The only way that he can see to atone for all the killing that he has done is to kill again.

Hirst uses all the skills that he's developed during his career and manages to stay one step ahead of disaster as he tries to unravel the mystery of who has been employing him and exactly what he has sacrificed to live life as an assassin. He knows that he can trust no one; yet, he depends on a French femme fatale to assist him in reaching his goal. He's well aware that he may not live to see another day and that in reality he doesn't have very much to live for. But he's determined to die trying.

Wignall has created an extremely intriguing character in Conrad Hirst. At first, he appears to be not much more than a robotic, remorseless man killing as directed. But along the way, he is also revealed to have many more layers than are initially apparent. He unveils himself through letters that he writes to a dead lover. And it's chilling to think that although he seems to have loved this woman very much, she may have been one of his victims.

The one thing that made the book stand out is the fact that Hirst, in spite of being a stone cold killer, actually does have a heart, although it has been shut down for a very long time. All readers can relate to the themes of regret and redemption. It's odd to find yourself hoping that this man who can kill another human being without thinking twice will survive to live a different life. Excellent minimalist writing, haunting characterization and suspenseful pacing combine to make this book one you NEED to read!

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