Synopses & Reviews
AN EPIC MASTERWORK OF INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE SET IN THE ASHES OF WAR-TORN IRAQ, ITALY, AND AREAS IN BETWEEN.
The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. The story begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters, and genres, you wont find a more ambitious or thrilling novel this year.
Camp Liberty is an unmanned staging post in Amrah City, Iraq, the place where the detritus of the war is buried, incinerated, removed from memory. Out of the blue, plans are announced to transform it into the largest military base in the country, code-named the Massive, with a postwar strategy to convert the site for civilian use. Contracted by HOSCO International, the insidious company responsible for overseeing the Massive, Rem Gunnersen finds himself unwittingly commanding a disparate group of economic mercenaries at Camp Liberty when the mysterious Stephen Lawrence Sutler arrives.
As the men are unwittingly pitted against one another by HOSCO, the situation grows increasingly tense. And then everything changes. An explosion. An attack on a regional government office. When the dust settles, it emerges that Sutler has disappeared, and more than fifty million dollars of reconstruction funds are missing. Sutler finds himself accused and on the run. Gunnersen and his men want revenge for months of abuse and misinformation. Out of the chaos Paul Geezler, a man more involved than hes willing to admit, rises to restore order. And then theres the vicious murder of an American student in Italy. A murder that replicates exactly the details of a well-known novel that has found itself into the hands of various characters throughout this gripping tale.
"Longlisted for the Man Booker, House's thousand-plus-page novel is an intense, frustrating yet unforgettable tale of U.S. contractors working amid corruption, betrayal, and murder in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The novel is made up of four books. The first, 'Sutler,' follows Brit John Ford (aka Sutler), a contractor at Camp Liberty in Baghdad. After employer Paul Geezler of HOSCO International instructs him to draw his final payment using a convoluted system of accounts, a deadly explosion sends Sutler on the run; Geezler claims the contractor stole $53 million from funds allocated for the Massive, a military complex to be built in the desert. The Massive exists only on paper, in contrast to Camp Liberty's burn pits for destroying medical and military waste, which are very real but undocumented. The second book, entitled 'The Massive,' follows the men who tend the burn pits, as each meets a premature demise. In the fourth book, 'The Hit,' Sutler is sighted at three separate locations, and Geezler goes missing. Set apart from books one, two, and four, the third book, 'The Kill,' set in Naples and populated with prostitutes and language students, is metafiction at its most gruesome. While it's different from the other three books, it addresses the same themes: how do killers become killers? How do victims become victims? How do perpetrators turn into victims, and vice versa? How do money, people, places, and crimes disappear? House probes but does not answer these questions. He presents intriguing characters and enthralling scenarios, then leaves readers to make sense of it all. This huge undertaking is notable for its ambition, and it seduces with both its shortcomings and its accomplishments." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A symphony in four distinct novel-length movements….Perfect for folks whose idea Thanksgiving or Christmas breaks involve curling up with a fat, rewarding read.”—Passport
“The Kills challenges what a thriller can be…Despite the influence of Roberto Bolaños 2666, Sutler calls the protagonist of another open-ended epic to mind: Tyrone Slothrop of Thomas Pynchons Gravitys Rainbow, a character who disappears from the book but whose presence can be felt on every page. The Kills has similar goals as Gravitys Rainbow: to expose the greed and corruption that thrives in the economy of war. House may not have written a conventional thriller, but The Kills is a thrilling work of art by a writer at the top of his game.”—Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times“One-word review: Wow.”—Susannah Cahalan, New York Post“The Kills offers up all the suspense and violence of a thriller, but Houses tetralogy is much more than an exciting story.”—Tulsa World
“The Kills is in part a comprehensive, Tom Wolfe-esque plunge into the underworld of military contracting. It's also a shrewd, globe-trotting thriller in the vein of John le Carré...Reading it will make quick work of a cross-country flight or a weekend at the beach.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“A long read, and worth every minute....Houses brilliant structure allows him to maintain maximum suspense while following his characters and ideas across a vast moral, political, and philosophical landscape. (The effect is not unlike Roberto Bolaño's in 2666, an inspiration for The Kills.) The novel is ambitious, expansive, beautifully written, and gripping, with intimations of danger shimmering behind even the simplest gesture. Imagine Philip Petit walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. The Kills is that dazzling.”—NPR.org
“Huge and hugely ambitious...House is one of the few British writers taking on the challenge of constructing a literary novel through the prism of a crime novel...House creates a surreal, Mesopotamian Catch-22...The Kills, with its ambition, linguistic stylization, and global reach, is exactly the kind of novel the Booker Prize (and the reading public) needs.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“The thousand-page novel youll actually want to read...Richard Houses THE KILLS comprises four separate novels—addictive, interlocking thrillers that echo the political intrigue of Graham Greene and the innovative structures of Roberto Bolaño....Theres a summers worth of white-knuckle page turning here, but youll probably need only a week.”—Details
“Criminally entertaining.”—Vanity Fair
“The Kills is not a typical thriller, but it has the pace and energy associated with the genre and it's already being compared to the work of John le Carre....House has taken a familiar form and made it fresh....Richly detailed, evocative prose.”—Out
“This is the kind of book that classics are made off.”—Amos Lassen, ReviewsByAmosLassen.com
“The Kills is a hugely ambitious and mesmerizing work, fresh and entertaining. Richard House is the real deal.”—Olen Steinhauer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Tourist and An American Spy
“This is a staggering achievement....Highly recommended.”—Daily Mail (London)
“Remarkable...Part Olen Steinhauer spy thriller and part Roberto Bolaño art novel...The Kills is a work of intense artistic conviction and demands a serious commitment from its readers. They'll be rewarded.”—Booklist
“Engrossing…Houses four-part, 1,000-page novel of corruption and murder is a heady page-turner. Already a hit in the U.K., The Kills trots the globe with professional killers and military contractors, and earns its comparisons to John le Carré with a healthy dose of political intrigue.”—Matthew Love, Time Out New York
“Richard Houses ambitious espionage novel, inspired by Roberto Bolano's 2666 and Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart, is comprised of four tightly linked books….It all adds up to an astonishing saga.”—Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com
“A sprawling, subterranean, sometimes-surreal novel of the new world order, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, in which Bolaño and Pynchon wave in passing as we dodge between IEDs and sinister plots....Ambitious and often brilliant.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The Kills...takes you on a hell of a ride.”—The Daily Telegraph (London)
“The Kills by Richard House: The second section of this four-part novel is callexd 'The Massive'; it's a title that could have stood for the whole. House's sprawling quadruple-decker, longlisted for the Booker Prize, is a literary thriller set against the background of the Iraq War.”—Garth Risk Halberg, The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2014
“Richard House has written a damn good book....The Kills is possibly the most eyebrow-raising entry on this years Booker longlist....He is not your average novelist, but is also a filmmaker, artist, and magazine editor....If this all seems hifalutin, rest assured: The Kills is still all about spinning a good yarn.”—The Sunday Times (London)
“A gigantic experiment, bracing, thrilling and worthy of a medal for narrative heroism, Richard Houses four-volume The Kills plays an epic set of variations on the shadow war for loot and influence behind the chaos of Iraq.”—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent (London), Books of the Year
“The novel I enjoyed most was Richard Houses sensational pile-driver, The Kills.”—Philip Hensher, The Guardian (London), Best Books of the Year
“Richard Houses The Kills was the novel that impressed me most: a terrific unbuckled ride through global and intimate catastrophes, blood and billions.”—Philip Hensher, The Spectator (London), Best Books of the Year
A MASTERWORK OF INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE SET IN THE ASHES OF WAR-TORN IRAQ, ITALY, AND AREAS IN BETWEEN.
The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. It begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters, and genres, there will be no more ambitious or exciting novel published this year.
About the Author
Richard House is a writer, artist, filmmaker, and teacher. He is the author of two short dark novels, Bruiser and Uninvited, published by Ira Silverberg in the Serpents Tail High Risk series. He is a member of the Chicago-based collaborative Haha, whose work has appeared at the New Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Venice Biennale. He teaches at the University of Birmingham and is the editor of Fatboy Review, a digital literary magazine.