An enduring multi-layered tale of one gun for hire and his final shot…
Stephen King has succeeded yet again in turning his hand to crime fiction but describing this story as just a few genres would be an understatement because like always, you get your money’s worth. ‘Billy Summers’ is the name of a man who is a gun for hire, he has a sometimes dark history which readers will gradually realise while also being connected to the underworld of big business and organised crime.
There is a lot to unpack and digest here along with references of many different things through multiple layers, some I grasped and probably others I missed. A few figurative elbows are aimed towards modern politics but for the most part we stay in the neighbourhood King is known for. Our main character turns his own hand to writing a memoir of war, childhood trauma and much more while carrying out a final mission. They do say ‘write what you know’ and for this story its metaphorical in a sense. The ‘dumb self’ concept is particularly clever and a needed vessel to give Summers a certain calculated depth although my only criticism is we don’t get all of him and after such a long read is kind of a waste to me. For a man who spends much of his time covering up who he is, readers never really get to know the real side to him.
Of course the story is an enduring one, we have a slow introduction and long middle and even a long end but it works for the most part. There are many twists, turns and that textbook depraved/twisted style which Stephen King is known for but in smaller doses. I particularly appreciated the reference to one of his older works and for those who aren’t into the supernatural side of things, this one is perfect for you.