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The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning Paperback – January 24, 2012
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"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
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
"...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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved reading this book. It is not for the faint of heart. This book is cute as a bug in a Tony Soprano kind of way. The book is not perfect or politically correct. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Banshee
It starts really funny and dark, but it gets much better. At the end I really enjoyed it. It's a fun bookPublished 23 days ago by Jimena Ballí
An assassin who becomes introspective while on the run from a mistake not wholly of his own making ends up in Iceland where all his preconceptions are shattered. Good read!Published 2 months ago by Bob
I'm not a book critic, but I if I knew you, and we were talking about books, I'd recommend this one. So there's that.Published 6 months ago by Todd Michael Stanley
I don't recall what prompted me to buy this, but I remember distinctly laughing out loud at various parts. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Angryman1522
Loved this book. Thought it would be very different, from the cover and the quick Look Inside! I was in a hurry to find something to read and thought this was a strange title,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mary, Ashland