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The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning [Kindle Edition]

Hallgrimur Helgason
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (416 customer reviews)

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Book Description

With some 66 hits under his belt, Tomislav Bokšić, or Toxic, has a flawless record as hitman for the Croatian mafia in New York. That is, until he kills the wrong guy and is forced to flee the States, leaving behind the life he knows and loves. Suddenly, he finds himself on a plane hurtling toward Reykjavik, Iceland, borrowing the identity of an American televangelist named Father Friendly. With no means of escape from this island devoid of gun shops and contract killing, tragicomic hilarity ensues as he is forced to come to terms with his bloody past and reevaluate his future.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Book Description

With some 66 hits under his belt, Tomislav Bokšić, or Toxic, has a flawless record as hitman for the Croatian mafia in New York. That is, until he kills the wrong guy and is forced to flee the States, leaving behind the life he knows and loves. Suddenly, he finds himself on a plane hurtling toward Reykjavik, Iceland, borrowing the identity of an American televangelist named Father Friendly. With no means of escape from this island devoid of gun shops and contract killing, tragicomic hilarity ensues as he is forced to come to terms with his bloody past and reevaluate his future.

10 Rules for a Hitman to Live By, by Tomislav Boksic (aka Toxic)

Toxic, the hero of Hallgrimur Helgason's The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, had a record of 66 perfect kills. Then came the 67th--an undercover FBI agent--and suddenly he found himself in Iceland with a new identity. Oops. Avoid this kind of careless error by following Toxic's handy tips.

1. Don't miss the target. People tend to get a bit upset if they notice you're trying to kill them.
2. Don't waste a bullet. You have to think about the environment, too--you really shouldn't add an unnecessary gunshot to an already noisy city.
3. Morning is for murder. Nobody expects a bullet for breakfast.
4. Don't kill a priest. He who kills a man of the church will be killed by a church.
5. Don't confuse killing and murder. Murder is for amateurs, killing is for the professionals.
6. If you have to take on another person's identity, never let it be a priest. With that collar around your neck, your sex appeal is gone.
7. When you're dating, don't talk about your job--unless you're overseas. Foreign girls are crazy about guys who kill Americans.
8. Embrace every new passport they give you. It's always nice to get a new life now and then.
9. Don't kill the wrong guy. Or you'll end up in Iceland.
10. When in Iceland, stop the killing. There are so few of them.


"A sensational book. Hallgrimur Helgason's brain is like this amazing app that morphs the English language into gorgeously blunt new forms. It delivers surprise after surprise and makes you feel good about books again. I can't recommend it enough." --Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X

"If you read this I predict [Helgason]’ll be in your mind to stay.” -- DBC Pierre, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Vernon God Little

“[Helgason is] uproarious, sharp, and outrageously funny.”-- Kirkus Reviews

“[Helgason’s writing is] intelligent, unexpected and beguiling.” –-The Guardian

Product Details

  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (January 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005OBS0MU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
194 of 210 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely beautiful December 28, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Hallgrimur Helgason is a writer that I will have to put on my list of authors to look out for.

"The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning" is the first book that I have ever read from this Icelandic writer. I made sure to see who did the translation and it appears that Helgason did his own translation which makes this story about a Croatian hitman who makes the wrong hit even more remarkable to me.

The story's premise is simple enough. Tomislav "Toxic" Boksic is a hitman for the Croatian mob in NYC. He has a girlfriend. He has a job that he is good at. He likes his life well enough.

Then he's given an assignment that goes wrong in that his target is FBI. And that makes him an instant target. As such, he flees by assuming the identity of a man he kills in an airport bathroom and he is off to Iceland where there are no guns or prostitution and a very small population.

Even more worrisome, the identity of the man he has assumed is an evangelical preacher who was on his way to make an appearance on television for a local group of evangelical Icelanders.

But if you think that this is just an action/crime thriller. It isn't. Helgason has a gift for the darkly humorous and compassion in odd places. Toxic isn't a good guy but he isn't a guy you want to give up on. He is a weirdly trustworthy narrator and while it seems clear where he is headed, you can't help but hope that maybe it'll end differently. That his sins will be washed away and he can find peace.

The people he meets in his exile are interesting in their quirks and affectations. Sigrudor (or as Toxic calls him 'Sickreader') is the pastor who picks him up. His daughter Grunhilder (or Gunholder) is rebellious but not obnoxious. In between his present, you meet the people in his past.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
At least the man knows how to clean and how to straighten up a room. I'll give him that much credit, despite the fact his tidying up is only a way to kill time, waiting on a woman who may end up a victim. Vacuum expertise aside, however, it's difficult to find much else of interest in this arrogant and chatty assassin nicknamed "Toxic," the main character of the novel The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, who continually reminds us just how skilled he is at murder. Immediately, we start to wonder how this will play out: is he going to turn into a valiant hero, or will he maintain his tragic vision and become the rarely seen, fully fledged anti-hero?
"...I'm really proud of my hitman work. I always try to do a good job. `Victim first' is my motto."
Determined to come across as a fully-accredited badass, the protagonist narrates his every thought and action as he flees the U.S. after a hit goes wrong. Seeing the FBI on his tail, he quickly changes his plans, kills another stranger, and steals his identity. He awakes on a plane bound for Reykjavik, Iceland. The odds are good his escape plan will work, except that his new identity is that of a well-known fundamental Christian leader with a schedule of appearances awaiting him. Deciding to play along with the ruse, he manages to record some disturbing radio sermons and manipulate his somewhat confused hosts, all while looking for a way out of Iceland.

Author Hallgrimur Helgason often channels Quentin Tarantino with action similar to the film director's style: fast-paced violence, pop culture references, saturated with sarcasm. This is completely intentional, as Tarantino gets mentioned (as do Beyonce and Creed) several times in the storyline.
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365 of 441 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time on this! March 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read some of the online reviews before purchasing this book, thought I understood what I would be reading, was intrigued by the prospect, and even looking forward to, some dark hitman humor. However, I found this book to be disgusting, worthless garbage. There is nothing redeeming at all, let alone funny about any of it, even though I patiently stuck with it for 80-something pages, after which I finally admitted it had absolutely no entertainment value, was merely disturbing and revolting, and deleted it from my Kindle. What's amusing about reminiscing about a victim who was forced to cut off his wife's breasts and eat them? I hope I saved myself from other similar mental images. Beyond the Sopranos. Way beyond The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Do we need this for its sick shock value? Please don't put this in your brain -- I wish I hadn't. This book makes me believe in censorship, or at least warning labels on books.
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76 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a Half Stars January 1, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is reasonable to assume that a guy called "Toxic" is probably not the nicest guy on the planet and you would be right. In fact, Tomislav Boksic, aka Toxic, is a hitman for the mob in New York City. He claims to have killed 120 something people, some of them in the Bosnian war but 60 something of them as a hitman for the mob. He is on the job and kills the man he is assigned to but to come to find out this guy is an FBI agent and things quickly go downhill from there. He is forced into exile and by unforeseen circumstances winds up killing a TV evangelist, who he looks like, in the bathroom at JFK airport and assuming his identity and winds up in Iceland.

Iceland is unlike anywhere he has ever been before. It has endless days and endless nights, is never truly warm, and has an average zero homicide rate. Further he can't buy a handgun in this country which he desperately misses carrying. He has a lot of difficulty pronouncing the names of the Icelandic citizens so he just turns them into American sounding instead, for example, there's Thordur who he calls Torture, and Guomundur is called Goodmoondoor. He describes the Icelandic national face as "round, with a small nose, like a snowball with a peeble in it" (46).

Needless to say Toxic's past catches up to him in Iceland and he must leave Goodmoondoor's house and go on the run. I won't ruin the book for you but I will tell you that the preacher Goodmoondoor and his fellow preacher Torture decide to save Toxic's soul instead of turning him into the police. The book is pretty funny at times and moves very quickly. The problem I had with it was that I could never really identify with the main character or any of the characters for that matter. It was hard to sympathize with them but I did find myself at the end of the book pulling for Toxic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Well written but basically boring.
Published 4 days ago by dave hagen
3.0 out of 5 stars It was different
It has some entertaining parts and some stretches that were pretty dull. It wasn't my standard read. Doubt if I read others by this author.
Published 6 days ago by Timothy Hamilton
3.0 out of 5 stars A Hitman Finds Religion
The main character in this story is a hit man who lives by his wits and his gun. After killing one too many, this Croat finds himself impersonating an American preacher... Read more
Published 8 days ago by RNT
3.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Thriller
Although a very unique storyline, I struggled to engage with the main characters. Helgason is a fascinating writer and he poses very thought-provoking questions about foregiveness... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Delia
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
worst book I have read EVER!
Published 10 days ago by Frederick R. Dimesa
3.0 out of 5 stars The Hitman guide to house cleaning!!
Good read, some amusing parts to go with some unbelievable parts! It's a good life lesson. You will not want to put it down!!
Published 14 days ago by Michael E. Stiegler
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a fun, quirky read
It was a fun, quirky read! I loved how the Icelandic characters' names were spelled out phonetically, in a weird, English equivalent sort of way. I liked it!
Published 15 days ago by digdug727
3.0 out of 5 stars The misguided lost hitman
This could have been better, and the ending is left hanging.
Published 19 days ago by Gary9696
3.0 out of 5 stars Read it on the way home from Reykjavik
Hopefully, you are not going to be able to relate to the protagonist -- an overweight Croatian hit man who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer -- or should I say is a few... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Whitebear
3.0 out of 5 stars Gangster Turned Joker Turned Good Guy?
If there was an option I would go with maybe more like 3.5 stars... I didn't think it was a wasted read, but I did think it was a little cheesy sometimes whereas the main... Read more
Published 21 days ago by BookWorm
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More About the Author

Hallgrimur Helgason was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1959. He started out as an artist, showing his work in several galleries of both New York and Paris, where he lived in the late eighties and early nineties. He made his debut as a novelist in 1990 and gained international attention with his third novel, "101 Reykjavik" ("Imagine if Henry Miller had written 'Tropic of Cancer' on crack instead of wine." - Tim Sandlin), which was made into a film starring Victoria Abril. In 2001 Helgason received the Icelandic Literary Prize for "The Author of Iceland." He has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, with "101 Reykjavik" in 1999, and "Stormland" in 2007. A film based on the latter was released in early 2011. "The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning" is his only novel written in English. It was published in Iceland in 2008, in the author's own translation, and became a bestseller in Germany in 2010. A father of three, Hallgrimur divides his time between Reykjavik and Hrísey Island. For more information, visit

Author photo copyright Hari.

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