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Calling Mr. King [Kindle Edition]

Ronald De Feo
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


“It’s an engrossing story, persuasively depicting an angry, obsessive man as he comes to a greater awareness of the world around him…De Feo’s master strokes are in creating a remorseless psychopath you'd enjoy spending time with.” —Publishers Weekly
“De Feo is definitely a newcomer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

Calling Mr. King is an entertaining tale built on what happens when a high-end hit man begins to feel the awakening of an intellectual life. Ronald De Feo invites the reader to play for a while in a seldom-explored part of the borderland between sanity and insanity.” —Thomas Perry, author of The Butcher’s Boy
“Ronald De Feo’s Calling Mr. King is the smartest novel I’ve read in years with a hit man in the leading role. His hit man, a very original, quirky hit man, takes us on an amazing side trip of the world’s capitals, the world’s art and architecture, which makes this knowledgeable hit man irresistible.” —Barbara Probst Solomon, US cultural correspondent of El País

About the Author

RONALD DE FEO's short fiction has been published widely in national magazines, including the Hudson Review, Massachusetts Review, and North American Review. He has also written numerous reviews for the New York Times Book Review, as well as the Nation, New Republic, National Review, and Hudson Review. He worked for nine years as senior editor at ArtNews Magazine, one of the world's leading art periodicals, and for the past nine years he's been on the advisory board of Review Magazine, devoted to Latin American and Canadian literature and the arts. Calling Mr. King is his first novel. He lives in Manhattan.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1412 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1441772006
  • Publisher: Other Press (August 30, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4X71C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,153 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look at at a Troubled Hit Man August 18, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo is an exhilarating read. It is poignant, funny, serious and sad. It grabs the reader from the beginning and we go on a short but rich journey with Mr. King, a hit-man, an employee of The Firm, as he transforms himself from a killer to a would-be intellectual and lover of art and architecture.

Mr. King is one of The Firm's best marksmen and, as the novel opens, he is in Paris to do a hit. Something about the job starts getting to him and he postpones his hit repeatedly. He puts off an easy mark day after day. When he finally does his hit, it is with a bit of trepidation, anger and regret, wishing that he had something better to do.

This `something better' begins to take shape in his life as an appreciation for art, especially the Georgian architecture of his adopted city, London. He gets excited, going from bookstore to bookstore and collecting books on architecture and works of art by John Constable, the artist. His employer, however, is not happy with him. They are upset about the amount of time it took for him to do his job in Paris and they decide to send him to New York on a vacation. Mr. King feels he is long due for a vacation so this is not the worst thing in the world for him.

In New York, he devours the bookstores and museums, daily increasing his knowledge and excitement about art and architecture, expanding his interests and horizons in this area. He becomes interested in Regency style and art nouveau. He goes to see the Constable show at the Frick Museum after a clerk at Rizzoli's bookstore recommends this to him. He also becomes interested in John Turner and artists who paint the English countryside.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deliciously Funny "On the Road" Novel September 18, 2011
By R. Bass
Calling Mr. King is a deliciously funny novel of one man's journey from utter amorality and disinterest in the world--to awakening and self-awakening: triggered (pun intended) by (OF ALL THINGS!)a new-found interest in Georgian Architecture. I purposely read it in small sections, so that I could savor the low-key, deadpan humor. It's not a book that you want to rush through to the end. Our protagonist is a hitman who travels through Paris, London, New York and Barcelona "on business."

One of the most hilarious moments occurs when he's in New York, supposedly "on vacation." Sitting in Central Park and trying to read, he reacts to some would-be muggers with amazingly quick instincts. Most of us would be horrified by what he does if it were in real life. But I think that some of the irked bad angels within us would love to do the same.

This was a one-of-a-kind treat. I hope to hear more from Mr. DeFeo.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Genre Bender September 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
'Calling Mr. King' is a first novel for long-time writer, Ronald De Feo and he has produced one of the better books I've read this season. The entertainment begins with the title, for we quickly learn that 'Mr. King' is really a 'pawn' working for a multi-national criminal enterprise. That this book makes use of a genre-bending formula to add a layer of substance is apparent in the cataloging tags provided for the book: 'Assassins--Fiction, 'Self-Actualization (Psychology)--Fiction.' I find a sort of sardonic humor in this juxtaposition that carries over into the entire body of this entertaining novel. A third genre could as well have been referenced: Travel. Readers are taken to London, New York City and Upstate New York and to Barcelona and readers are treated to a travelogue of sorts for each location.

'Mr. King'(his working name)is a highly effective and narrowly skilled cog in his criminal enterprise: he has never missed a target with a firearm. We find him in mid-career and his focus is beginning to break down. The story traces his breakdown (or 'growth')as he begins to wonder if there shouldn't be more to living than exterminating other people. The author gives a convincing portrait of how sociological factors and psychological makeup have worked to create the assassin and embroiders the portrait to show how these same elements limit 'Mr. King's' ability to understand how to relate to people or how to reach out to others or to branch out by finding and developing an intellectual interest--in this case architecture. Throughout the novel, the protagonist sees people in terms of psychological, sociological and ethnic stereotypes. This is the source of breezy humor early in the story and it moves the pace of the book along nicely. 'Mr.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique, disturbing, gripping, and interesting novel September 13, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Calling Mr. King, by Ronald DeFeo is an unusual novel about an emotionless hit man whose obsession with Georgian architecture opens up the garden path of possibilities that he never considered. The novel is a quirky combination of abuse, sociopathy, edgy intellectualism, and whimsy. A strange brew, no doubt, but somehow a tantalizingly gripping one.

We meet `Mr. King' at time in his career where he has performed hit after hit like clock work and with stone cold,dead-on accuracy. Years without a break, he is starting to feel fatigued. Uncharacteristically, his mind starts to wander and his interest is piqued by of all things architecture. He has a lapse in judgement and instead of just hitting his mark, he takes out an innocent bystander as well. His bosses at 'the Firm' feel that he needs to take a vacation and they send him to New York City. His down time in New York allows him to think more deeply about his passion for architecture and opens up a new world to him.

Although the novel could have lapsed into the hackneyed and conventional, Mr. King's coming of age story remains anything but. King--not the hit man's real name, but the only name that he uses--isn't your typical assassin with a soul. Due to an abusive childhood, King's personality is stunted and primitive. He is as surprised at his interest for architecture as is the reader. He pursues his passion the same way he pursues his victims--in a relentless, emotionless, and even heartless way.

In the end it is the character study that really makes the novel pop. Being inside of King's head is as off putting as it is intriguing. The sideways way that King makes sense of the world and his own emotional state make the novel gripping.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars From hit man to architectural intellectual
The concept of this book is very clever. A professional hit man starts getting interested in architecture and art. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Patto
3.0 out of 5 stars It was not my kind of book
I was very excited to read this book, but I couldn't get into it. Sometimes it happens when I was busy. So I gave it a try after a few months. I still couldn't get into it. Read more
Published on May 21, 2012 by Y. Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller, but a mind game.
Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Foe chronicles an unnamed hit man's realization that he wants more out of his life than what his profession asks of him. Read more
Published on February 14, 2012 by C. Trudeau
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is the plot?
I listened to the audio and kept waiting for the story to start moving, for a plot to develop. It never did. Read more
Published on February 8, 2012 by Dianne Steiger
1.0 out of 5 stars Call me when you're sober...
The initial concept of `Calling Mr. King' was quite intriguing. With the recent influx of `hitman' interest, this book seemed prime to steal my interest. Read more
Published on January 19, 2012 by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Against The Odds
Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought about a hitman needing a vacation from his profession. Read more
Published on December 28, 2011 by prisrob
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
What an enjoyable read! Admittedly, my favorite books are those that give the reader a sense of a different place AND character developments, both of which this is. Read more
Published on December 18, 2011 by Carol
4.0 out of 5 stars Identity Search
"Calling Mr. King" is about a hit man for an international criminal organization referred to as "The Firm. Read more
Published on December 11, 2011 by T. Karr
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was disappointed with this boring story and began to skim through it at the halfway point. The plot was poorly developed and the author continued to repeat the same senario... Read more
Published on December 4, 2011 by annonymous
2.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, but rather boring
The never-ending internal monologue of the main character became excruciating. I started skimming about halfway through. Read more
Published on November 30, 2011 by Knock on Wood
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