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The kills by Richard House
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147581,427 (2.98)1 / 31
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    The Dog by Joseph O'Neill (hairball)
    hairball: Though the two novels don't seem at all alike on the surface, they manage to complement each other well.
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Showing 5 of 5
Though the subject matter is promising and the scope ambitious, The Kills never succeeds in being more than a sum of its parts. ( )
  Lirmac | Aug 9, 2016 |
0.48
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
A case of gigantism. There is a lot of good, interesting and thought provoking stuff here, but the inescapable conclusion for me is that the writer was seduced by a brilliant and clever idea, and then just hasn't managed to communicate effectively what it is..
  otterley | Oct 26, 2014 |
As a reader I had to invest quite a bit of focus into this very long quartet of a novel – and I didn’t feel sufficiently rewarded. Initially I found the writing engaging but somewhere in the middle I became aware that House is less interested in his characters than in his plot and that this plot is not at all easy to follow. At one point for instance, he has a character pick up ‘the book’ – ‘the’ book – what book? I asked myself, thinking I hadn’t been paying enough attention, but going back over the previous few pages I still couldn’t find any reference to a book. There’s also a plethora of characters and lots of violence with the focus on what is done rather than why the characters act as they do. This I found particularly frustrating. Those who are victims, an awful lot of them, just seem to allow themselves to be treated as such. The men in ‘The Massive’ for example know that burning all the hazardous waste is destroying their health but they keep on doing it. Lila in third book has many opportunities to escape but doesn’t, the only time this failure to escape being examined is when she really doesn’t have the opportunity to leave.

In the end, then, I felt this book had all the bells and whistles of something ground-breaking but it just didn’t deliver. Yes, it’s all about the corruption of western companies and individuals taking advantage of US wars in the Middle East, in this case Iraq, but I think it needed to be anchored by having some fuller characterisation in order to avoid superficial sensationalism, the little video clips really offering very little extra. I reviewed Sutler, released earlier, separately and more enthusiastically, but having invested my free time in this book for the past fortnight I’ve ended up feeling short-changed. ( )
  evening | Mar 13, 2014 |
This omnibus consists of four books, which were released separately before this version was published. In book 1, Sutler, the main character is introduced: he is Stephen Lawrence Sutler, a British civilian contractor who works for HOSCO International, which builds facilities primarily in the Middle East and Asia, and is funded and supported by Western governments. He is sent to Amrah City in Iraq to oversee the conversion of a burn pit, used to incinerate waste from American and British military operations, into a free standing and fully equipped city, albeit one in the middle of the desert that is hundreds of miles away from other sizable cities in that country. Sutler, who uses an alibi given to him by his superior in place of his real name, is injured in an attack on the compound, and is ordered by his boss to make himself scarce, due to shady practices by HOSCO that leads the US and British governments and the media to charge him with the theft of over $50 million. He escapes to Turkey on foot, and begins a most unlikely misadventure that involves two journalists, a university professor capturing the Kurdish freedom movement in Turkey, and the professor's lover and student research assistant.

In book 2, The Massive, the focus is on the operation in Amrah City, along with the sad sack American men who work there. Book 3, The Kill, is a completely unrelated novel that is read by several characters in books 1 and 2, which is a gruesome murder mystery set in Naples in which several characters pay for their incredibly stupid choices with their lives. The last book, The Hit, involves a bizarre search for "Sutler Three", which contains some of the most insipid dialogue I've ever read in a Booker Prize nominated novel, such as this excerpt:

He's ready for her after the lesson when she comes out of the building. Rike looks quickly up and down the street as if she might be ready for him also. As soon as she passes by the café he steps forward, strides, in pace, right behind her.
'Take the book.'
She turns to face him, rolls her eyes. 'You again.'
'Take the book.'
'No.'
'Take it.'
'No.'
'Take it. Take it. Take it. Take it.'
She doesn't respond. In fact, she's not even bothered by him. She isn't threatened at all.
'Take the book. Take the book. Take the book.'


The book is supplemented by online video and audio content, which is meant to provide insight into the characters' lives outside of the book's text.

In an interview, House mentions that he was inspired by Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666, a long work that consists of four major sections, and this book appears to be an attempt to duplicate its structure. Unfortunately it doesn't come close to 2666, as it is nearly completely devoid of any coherent plot or significant character development, and it is filled with uninteresting and at times poorly written dialogue that must make Bolaño spin madly in his grave at the thought of this book being compared to his. The last two books were almost completely irrelevant to the first two, and the supplemental multimedia content was an unnecessary diversion that added nothing to my appreciation of the novel.

The Kills is a curious and disappointing choice for this year's Booker Prize longlist, and at just over 1000 pages it was a complete waste of time, money and paper, making it one of the worst Booker nominated novels I've ever read. ( )
5 vote kidzdoc | Sep 13, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
House has a great ability to create vivid characters, and the novel teems with them. But the writing in this third book is too abundant – there is simply too much story. In the digital version, this book can be read either chronologically or character by character – the reader must choose. However, as Monica, the sole witness to the murder for which there is no body, suggests, "Perhaps someone will write a book about making a film about a story that is taken from this book which is taken from a real-life story that was copied from a story in a book. You know?"
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my parents Roy and Pauline, my partner Nick Webster, and to the memory of John Pakosta
First words
John Jacob Ford's morning began at 3:03 with a call from Paul Geezler, Advisor to the Division Chief, Europe, for HOSCO International.
Quotations
He's ready for her after the lesson when she comes out of the building.Rike looks quickly up and down the street as if she might be ready for him also. As soon as she passes by the café he steps forward, strides, in pace, right behind her.
   'Take the book.'
   She turns to face him, rolls her eyes. 'You again.'
   'Take the book.'
   'No.'
   'Take it.'
   'No.'
   'Take it. Take it. Take it. Take it.'
   She doesn't respond. In fact, she's not even bothered by him. She isn't threatened at all.
   'Take the book. Take the book. Take the book.'
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is The Kills: Sutler, The Massive, The Kill, The Hit. 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 in 2013. In a ground-breaking collaboration between author and publisher, Richard House has also created multimedia content that takes you beyond the boundaries of the book and into the characters' lives outside its pages. Camp Liberty is an unmanned staging-post in Amrah province, Iraq; the place where the detritus of the war is buried, incinerated, removed from memory. Until, suddenly, plans are announced to transform it into the largest military base in the country, codenamed the Massive, with a post-war strategy to convert the site for civilian use. Contracted by HOSCO, the insidious company responsible for overseeing the Massive, Rem Gunnerson finds himself unwittingly commanding a disparate group of economic mercenaries at Camp Liberty when the mysterious Stephen Lawrence Sutler arrives.… (more)

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