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The Business of Dying Hardcover – June 26, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Dennis Milne Series (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (June 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312314019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312314019
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,871,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British author Kernick shows every sign of being a major talent in his debut novel, a gritty, noir police procedural. Seemingly a cold-blooded hit man, Dennis Milne turns out to be a London detective sergeant committed, after years of dealing with sordid crimes and mind-numbing cruelty, to pursuing justice as he defines it. Milne's personal code of ethics is compromised when he learns that his latest victims weren't the drug dealers whose deaths wouldn't burden his conscience but two customs agents and an accountant. His decision to spare the life of a potential eyewitness places him in jeopardy both from his colleagues on the force and from those who paid him for the killings. At the same time, Milne doggedly tries to identify a young hooker's murderer, and persists in rejecting the official theory of the case. Kernick does a masterful job of making Milne sympathetic, despite his callous brutalities, by combining a captivating first-person narrative with emotionally complex characterization. The portrayal of the harsh realism of the mean city streets is complemented by the revelations of the secret lives of the supporting characters with their masks of public respectability. Powerful prose, tight plotting and a clever fair-play puzzle add up to a remarkable first effort.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Dennis Milne is a good cop with a skewed sense of morality. He's also a cold-blooded murderer who carries out contract killings for "businessman" Raymond Keen. Milne's latest legitimate case involves the slaying of teenage prostitute Miriam Fox. Miriam's pimp is soon arrested for her murder, but Milne isn't convinced of the pimp's guilt. His latest job for Raymond Keen is killing three drug dealers who've allegedly cheated Keen. But things go wrong when Milne's victims turn out to be innocent men. Worse still, a witness gives the cops a good description of Milne, who figures it's only a matter of time before he's arrested or Keen has him killed as a liability. What Milne doesn't know is that the contract killing and Fox's murder are linked in a way that will change his life completely. Kernick's debut is compelling, dark, and suspenseful. While there are a few places where his unusual plot fails to convince, Kernick clearly has a promising future. Emily Melton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Thrilling, surprising and fascinating from the first page until the last one !
Kernick manages to pull it off admirably with superb characterizations that possess great depth and feelings.
I haven't read the author's work before and this was a recommendation that I'm very glad I followed.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Discerning Reader on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Simon Kernick has written a fast-paced novel about a good man doing ambiguous things for the right reasons. Sgt. Milne is a detective with the Metropolitan Police, and he supplements his meager income carrying out hits on criminals (as requested and compensated by other criminals). His conscience isn't bothered, especially given some of the bums he's asked to eliminate. After a big hit described in the first chapter, however, our narrator discovers that the victims seem to be honest civil servants. Now, he has to watch his moves carefully as he works with the same police force that is investigating his crime.

All while this is going on, Sgt. Milne is investigating the brutal murder of a street walker--eventually, these two stories converge into a satisfying, action-packed conclusion. Kernick has a nice, wry, and fast-paced style that suits the storyline and the main character. There are even a few laughs! The plot is nicely devised, and a lot of bad people get what's coming to them--although Milne is enforcing a renegade justice, it's quite appealing to see the criminals in this novel pay for their injury to society. Give it a go--you won't be disappointed!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on February 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
London DS Dennis Milne is assigned to look into the death of an eighteen year old prostitute, Miriam Fox. She was found near a canal with her throat slashed. As Milne investigates, he becomes romantically interested in Carla Graham, manager of the hostel where Miriam lived. However, Carla is much more than she superficially appears to be. Of major concern to him is the ongoing investigation into a purported mob hit against three men- two of whom were custom agents. What worries Milne is that he was the hit man on the three killings. He did it for money but was told the men were hardened criminals who got what they had coming.
Far from the typical British detective novel, Simon Kernick goes for true originality- a detective and a hit man. Kernick manages to pull it off admirably with superb characterizations that possess great depth and feelings. Kernick manages to achieve this by spending great care in the first half of the novel establishing these characters- especially Detective Milne, of course. The second half of the book is a violent tour de force where plot twists and surprises keep the pages turning as fast as possible. There is a great sense of control the author exhibits in plot progression and pacing. The writing style is slick. I cannot imagine he did not know exactly where the story was going. A superb debut.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on January 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kernick's debut novel is the fourth novel of his I have read and can tell you it's just as good if not better than the other three. The first of his I ever read was Relentless which was a Harlan Coben independent storyline style (average everyday guy suddenly has life in danger by a sudden event, must flee and work out what is going on to survive type reads). The second was Kernick's novel Severed, which was more of a David Morrell type novel (fast paced albeit a little unrealistic action thriller, well trained ex army guy who rights a wrong type reads). Deadline was completely different again, was an action novel but more along the lines of through the eyes of a policeman solving a crime type novel. What we've got here with the Business of Dying is a combination of the styles of Deadline and Severed rolled into the one lead character.

In this novel Detective Sergeant Dennis Milne long ago lost his faith that police following the rules made a huge difference. Sure he's put many through traditional police methods behind bars but the justice system has also seen a lot walk free due to technicalities or tainted evidence. Therefore he has no problem delivering his own justice while making a bit of money on the side by being paid to be an assassin. He only kills those who deserve it, at least he did until he found out his latest triple hit happened to be two customs agents and an accountant. Complicating matter is a witness which makes his associates on the hit man side of things a bit jittery.
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Format: Paperback
"The Business of Dying" is this author's first book so after enjoying his latest books immensely I knew I had to go back in time to search out the roots of this author's imagination.

Mr. Kernick's first novel is a mystery with a twist providing the reader with plenty of action and intrigue. The engaging protagonist, Dennis Milne, a full time cop and part time murderer, is always at the heart of it all. The storytelling flows smoothly and delivers a saga that engulfs your imagination till the last page.

The story is fast of the mark with the coldblooded execution of two customs agents and an accountant. This assignment is handed to Dennis by London's toughest members of society the underworld elite that expects results, with them failure is not an option. As a reader my attention was immediately seized by the captivating description of London's underbelly life, a world that is generally hidden from the public and a culture that thrives on fear and secrecy.

Dennis's day job as a London detective investigating the death of a young girl found by the side of a canal is on a direct collision course with his underworld assignment. Working both sides against the middle is a no win situation that puts Dennis in the very precarious position of being the hunter and hunted at the same time. The result is an edge of the seat drama that turns into Dennis's worse nightmare. He becomes a man on the run with no place to hide.

The author has combined an interesting first person narrative with emotionally complex characterisation. Dennis is portrayed as a person with a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The powerful prose, tight plotting, clever structure and the conundrum Dennis is faced with are the driving force behind this novel.

With Dennis on the run I can't wait to see what the author has in store next.
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