Jennn's Reviews > These Guns for Hire

These Guns for Hire by J.A. Konrath
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's review
Jul 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, fiction

** spoiler alert ** “The Guns for Hire” is a collection of hitman short stories. As a whole, many themes became repetitive - the hit is a foul-mouthed, wife beating jerk that “gets what's comin’ to ‘im”. Usually the hitmen were retired or well-versed in their craft. Disappointingly, the reasons and journey to becoming a hitman was usually glossed over and briefly mentioned. That would have been a fantastic, defining aspect, but no one really wrote about that. Also, I would have liked to have seen more female writers. However, those are my only gripes. Most of the writers were very entertaining and it was interesting to see what so many came up with for the theme, “hitman”.

Here are some of the ones I liked/hated/wrote notes for:
I liked “They Always Get You” by Victor Gischler
-“Another Rock n Roll Hit” wasn’t that great and read more like a fanfic than original.
-“There’s Somebody Here That Wants to Talk With You” was part horror, part vengeance, but mostly lame.
-“The Professional” by Sean Doolittle was fantastic!
-“Guest Services” by Max Allan was fun.
-“Gutter Snipes” was pretty bland, especially the sign “telling” him what to do was irritating.
-“Beauty” by Ed Gorman was good. O.K. story, but a fun hitman – I like his style.
-“The Black Rose” was a campy West-meets-East, but very refreshing seeing through a different view: at the wrong end of revenge.
-“Detour” was horrible. So bad, I actually took notes. It was very disjointed and pushed itself too hard to look cool. “He was in a blue Buick. Who drives a Buick anymore?” “He said he knew her husband first, and had promised Grayson- what kind of name if Grayson?” When your own character is questioning your story…that’s not good. And the nausea factor raised when she called her boss, Johnny D (rolls eyes) and introduced him, “Johnny D was my boss. And my man. It didn’t matter he was twenty years older than me. Or that he’d been one of Pop’s buddies. His partner, as a matter of fact. Johnny D taught me a lot about my job. And after Pop died, he taught me other things. A shiver of pleasure ran up my spine.” Uhg, no…just no.
-“The Attitude Adjuster” had an interesting premise, but was boring in the end.
-“When You’re Right, You’re Right” by Brian M. Wiprud rocked my world. Hitman vs. Lemur!
-“Bereaved” by J.A. Konrath was very hip, although the villain (i.e. the man buying the hit) followed the cliché seen in others, being a foul-mouthed, wife-beating jerk.
-“Not Shy, Not Retiring” was fun, sexy, and very unique as the hitwoman was in her 50’s. It wasn’t silly at all, and was actually sincere and interesting. Good way to break a stereotype.
-“Bat-Head Speed” was hard to read, not from the accent, but from the rapid tangents.
-“Keller’s Designated Hitter” by Lawrence Block was very good. I really liked Keller and had a bond with him. He wasn’t typical. He wasn’t smooth. A little socially awkward, and a stamp collector, but damn good at his job.
-“Nice Kids Carry Guns” by Paul A Toth. Yes! I loved his effeminate, lispy hitman, Chet. I loved the play between characters on 386 by calling Chet “mom” and Harley (his partner) “dad”. I love that! (Just like in Ouran) Sometimes the writing didn’t flow naturally (and some things were too forced like the gods theme: Uranus, Mercury, etc.), but it was still great.
-Loved, loved, *loved* “Poor Career Choice”! The beginning was amazing – what a way to grab a reader! Plus, it had me laughing out loud – the “slice of bitch” play is one of the funniest things I’ve read because I was thinking that, too. “ ‘Slice of bitch?’ What?” and then the protagonist mirrored my reaction. I’m used to things like that getting away, but the protagonist didn’t let it. He had the same reaction and it surprised me. I love being surprised!
- “Bloodshed Fred” was an interesting twist.
And I forget the very last story, but I really liked that one, too. The hitman really knew how to play someone and it seemed realistic.

Bottomline: A lot of fun. Not a hard read. I will look into some of the authors.

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