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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161109139X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611091397
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (361 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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.

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 hallgrimurhelgason.com.

Author photo copyright Hari.

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Customer Reviews

Slow with little plot and no ending.
Caribe Traveller
I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised after reading only a few pages.
Holly A. Hoskinson
Good read, an entertaining, well-written, well-paced story with unique characters and location.
babybmr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

193 of 209 people found the following review helpful By sanoe.net VINE VOICE on 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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Format: Paperback
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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357 of 432 people found the following review helpful By C. Nedved on 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 By G. Messersmith VINE VOICE on 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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