Synopses & Reviews
Hard edged, fast paced literary noir from the author of The House of Whacks
In middle age John Decker is a man at the height of his powers and the top of his profession. He is cool in the most heated negotiations, calculating under pressure. Hes a contract killer, the best there is, possibly the best there ever was. Only now, hes in trouble. Someone is vying for his spot, someone good enough to pull all the right strings and dance out of range. As Decker crisscrosses the deserts, truckstops, and gritty downtowns of the American west hes forced to wonder: whose foot is on the ladder just behind him, whose hand is at the wheel of the other car on the road? And who can Decker, the consummate loner, afford to trust?
In The Hired Gun Matthew Branton unravels the complex gamesmanship of survival in the face of uncertainty and betrayal. The Hired Gun is literary noir of the highest order, an existential thriller that examines the life of the contract killer in unprecedented psychological detail, mounting tension, and explosive action.
"British author Brantons fourth noir thriller, this one a chip off the Graham Greene block....Brantons new bravura piece...has gutsy faux-dialogue, is forcibly overwritten, has style lying thick on the storytelling and it works....Stylish young Brantons future lies brilliant before him. May he make the great leap Greene did." Kirkus Reviews
"Spinning words with grace and ease, the author has fun with this loose scenario in a Diary of a Hitman mold, but quickly gives the impression he's making it up page by page....Readers who crave intellectual romps could enjoy the ride, but fans of the hitman genre who prefer a growing body count may be distressed to find that Branton's killers seem intent on talking their victims to death." Publishers Weekly
"Cool, hard and filmic." British Esquire
"The initial kicker to a crime thriller revolution." The Face (U.K.)
"The marriage between the literary novel and the fast-paced thriller has always been an uneasy one, but Branton, unlike almost anyone of his generation, knows how to do it." Independent on Sunday (U.K.)
"Refreshingly bereft of the usual cliches, this is a whodunit with enough twists and sex to leave you feeling slightly depressed when you hit the last page." FHM
"In some ways his most deceptive novel (and definitely the most accomplished), The Hired Gun is an almost existential thriller that examines the life of the contract killer in unprecedented psychological detail. The degree of sadness and paranoia in the story is intense, as Branton examines what it's like to have truly no one to trust. His protagonist, John Decker, has chosen a life of supreme isolation. Nevertheless, he's a thoroughly sympathetic and realistic character." Matt Thorne
In this book, Matthew Branton unravels the complex gamesmanship of survival in the face of uncertainty and betrayal.
In a world where you're only as good as your last job, John Decker is tired. He is a contract killer, the best in the business. But being the best is no longer enough. And losing your job means losing your life. So when a contender offs his handler, Decker's out on his own. Forced into an alliance with a younger hitman, he finds himself pushing for position as well as fighting for his life. And when a fine young woman enters the frame, Decker has to choose between the life of a loner and the things he left behind. In The Hired Gun, Matthew Branton unravels the complex gamesmanship of survival in the face of uncertainty and betrayal.
About the Author
Matthew Branton was born in 1969 and studied at Sheffield Polytechnic and Manchester University. He divides his time between London and the beautiful north shore of Hawaii. He is the author of three previous novels, The Love Parade (Penguin, 1997), The House of Whacks (Bloomsbury, 1999) and Coast (Bloomsbury, 2000). When not writing, he can be found surfing the wild waves of the ocean, or teaching the finer points of riding a skateboard.
Why do you write?
Because I read, and I know what a novel can do to a person.
What writers do you owe a debt to?
The establishment British novelists Rushdie, Amis, Winterson, Barnes, McEwan, Kureishi who have been showing us how not to do it for the better part of three decades. Writers currently publishing whom I enjoy include a fly young Brazilian novelist named Patricia Melo, the endlessly versatile T.C. Boyle, the delightful short-story writer George Saunders, the blistering Chuck Palahniuk, and the unfailing genius, Don Delillo. Novelists whom I especially admire Dickens, Hardy, Orwell, Delillo seem to have a way of passing the baton on about them, if you know what I mean. The twenty-five-hundred year-old line Hoc dixit Xenon, quid tu? [this is what Xenon said. How about you?] is sometimes quoted as being the beginning of modern philosophy; I think its a nice way to describe how the very best writers hand work on to each other.
What do you aim to do in your writing?
My mission is to improve conditions amongst readers of contemporary fiction.
Is film important to your work?
Structure is important to my work, and the R&D work on narrative structure has been carried out almost exclusively in Hollywood. Structure has long been regarded as a thing of beauty by cineastes, but is usually ignored by novelists and critics in favour of style; style over substance, in my opinion.
Why do you live in Hawaii?
Because the Pacific way is a beautiful way. It is almost impossible to live a garbage life in rural Hawaii, and it is almost impossible to live a good life in Britain (too dirty, too crowded, too expolitative, too violent). But on the north shore of Oahu we dont wear shoes, even when we skate; we surf, we fish, we paddle, we dive; we grow bananas, papayas, mangoes and avocadoes; we hang with the geckos (there is no point trying to chase them out of your house, and besides they eat the roaches). The water is 74 degrees every day (in Britain I surf in a heavy wetsuit, boots, and a hood), the moon is bright enough to read on the beach at three a.m., and the sun is hot enough to have my tats out permanently, in addition to turning my skin brown and my butthair blond. What more could a white boy want?