TITLE: BLEEDING HEARS
AUTHOR: IAN RANKIN,
Writing as JACK HARVEY
Details: Received from Newbooks
Michael Weston is a hired killer who made one, unfortunately fatal, mistake in his otherwise very “successful” career.
When the novel starts he is in London where his assignment is to shoot a TV reporter, whose clothes have been described to him in amazing detail, when she exits a hotel. His shot, straight through the heart, is spot on, but as soon as he has fired his rifle he hears police approaching, forcing him to flee and come up with a last-minute escape plan.
While Michael usually makes a habit of not lingering on his kills after he’s executed them, he finds himself struggling with a lot of questions this time around. Questions that won’t leave him alone; questions he needs to answer.
How is it possible that the police arrived on the scene so quickly? Had they been tipped off? Had the person who contracted him to kill the reporter also set him up to be caught? Who had paid him for this kill in the first place? How could his employer have known exactly what the woman would be wearing? And who would have wanted her death in the first place, and why?
Armed with only questions and very few clues, Michael sets out to find out what has been going on, assisted by Belinda, the daughter of one of his weapon suppliers.
On Michael’s tail is Leo Hoffer, a private investigator from New York who has been hired by the father of Weston’s only mistake to track down the killer and destroy him. Hoffer soon finds that his American ways don’t go down too well in London, but nevertheless discovers enough clues to stay hot on the trail of Weston, from London to Scotland and eventually to America where a big show down should mean the end to all the mysteries, but does it?
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book.
In many ways it is a fascinating story. Told from the perspective of Weston we’re dealing with a narrator who should be unsympathetic to us, but isn’t. At the same time, the investigator trying to find and stop him should be the obvious force of good here but is rather repulsive instead. I soon found myself rooting for the hired killer against those who would stop him, but never felt completely comfortable about that sentiment.
I’m also not completely convinced about this book’s merits as a thriller. While it has all the elements you’d expect in a good thriller – the hunter and the hunted, good versus bad, a chase across countries and continents and a final twist just when you think the story is over – they didn’t work to keep me turning the pages. At times the story seemed to get bogged down in too much detail; detailed descriptions of the weapons used, haemophilia and other subjects encountered along the way seemed to take the pace out of the story and made this book just a little too easy to put down.
Overall I say that this book left me mostly indifferent. Indifferent about the characters while I was reading the book, and indifferent about the story as a whole now that I’ve finished it.
It is not a bad book at all; the story idea is original and interesting and I had no problem finishing the book. It is not a great book either though. It was too easy to put this book down for me to be able to call this a page-turner.
One thing this book did succeed in though, was arousing my curiosity about the Rebus novels by Rankin and their huge popularity. I will have to read a few titles in that series soon, if only to find out how they compare to this story.