Scribner, August 2021
I’ve been a Stephen King fan for a long time but over the past few years I’ve drifted away from reading his work. I’m not too sure if it was simply because I wasn’t altogether fond of his darker novels. I used to say I’d rather read the scary stuff than watch it in a movie or television series, but I’ve found I’m not enjoying reading anything too dark with too much graphic scenes of murder and mayhem.
With a title like Billy Summers (everyone knows a guy named Billy who can generally be a friendly helpful individual and of course Summers gives the impression of a warm, lazy, easy-going guy who is well-liked). And after reading a few positive reviews and comments regarding King’s latest offering, I became intrigued and decided to check it out. I’m so glad I did.
Billy Summers is an intriguing character. He’s a hired killer and has been for a number of years. He’s also a decorated Iraq war vet and one of the best snipers in the world. So says the inside flap on the hardcover. He has one rule, however, when it comes to a proposed victim, he must be a truly bad guy. Billy has been paid well for his skill and for the fact that he manages to successfully slip away unnoticed from these ‘jobs’.
Getting on in years Billy has plans to retire, but after much thought he accepts this latest and, as far as he’s concerned, last job. There is much planning and possibly weeks of waiting. Billy moves to an apartment while he waits for final instructions re the ‘job’ and spends his time reading, a favourite pastime. Told to keep a low profile he soon gets bored, and decides to pass the time writing his own life story, but changing his name.
So there are two stories now running parallel. Slowly but surely you grow to like and even admire this man, learning how his early life played out and influenced the choices he made, adding a depth of understanding to just how he became a hired killer.
But Billy is also a careful, thoughtful, and smart guy who begins to doubt the motives and plans of the men who have hired him. Billy has tended over the years to cultivate the impression he is a quiet guy and one who is a little simple-minded. And as an added precaution, decides to make plans of his own, a backup, for when the job is done.
And there’s more! Much more! And if you want to find out how Billy fares, my advice is to grab a copy and read Billy Summers, one of King‘s best novels to date….
Trust me you won’t regret it…
Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2022.