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Bending the Spine

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Early Review: Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo

Calling Mr. KingDescription:
Long considered cool, distant, and absolutely reliable, an American-born hit man, working throughout Europe, grows increasingly distracted and begins to develop an unexpected passion for architecture and art while engaged in his deadly profession. Although he welcomes this energizing break from his routine, he comes to realize that it is an unwise trajectory for a man in his business, particularly when he is sent on the most difficult job of his career.

Set in London, Paris, New York, and Barcelona, Calling Mr. King is at once a colorful suspense tale, laced with dark humor, and a psychological self-portrait of a character who is attempting, against the odds, to become someone else.

This is De Feo's first novel. (Goodreads)

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2011 by Other Press
ISBN 1590514750 (ISBN13: 9781590514757)
Primary Language: English

The description of this book immediately caught my attention.  I was drawn to the suspense and mystery, and in the end was let down.  Ronald De Feo attempted great things, but fell far short.  What could have been an intriguing, hit-man-meets-midlife-crisis, actually is a monologue rant, a telling of mostly past events from the the increasingly manic main character’s point of view.  Maybe I expected things about this that the book just couldn’t deliver.

I like that we don’t know much about the hit man, we don’t know how old he is, what time period we are in, or even what his name is.  We do know that he answers to “Mr. King.”  I like that we find out bits and pieces of his history as the story unfolds.  It’s like being an investigative reporter, sitting down with a former hit man, and interviewing him about his life.  Sure he rambles, gets lost in his own rants and raves, gives in to manic episodes, but completely keeps your attention the entire time you are reading.
I am somewhat of a techie, just shy of being a tech-geek.  And, though I haven’t quite figured out what era the story takes place in, I was left confused regarding why there was no cell phones, no GPS, etc.  Payphones…really?  And what’s the deal with the Walkmans?  For a book to be published and released in 2011, we were severely lacking in current tech.  Just replacing the Walkman with an MP3 player or iPod would have drastically updated the tale.

I did not like the ending.  I feel cheated, deprived of the outcome.  I need more, Mr. De Feo, resolution.  Not necessarily a happily-ever-after, but something.  I am left to wonder, to draw my own conclusions about the ending.

3 Stars: Can’t really decide if i like it or not.

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

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