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Thanks For Killing Me Paperback – September 29, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Thanks for Killing Me is a rollicking comic yarn of hustlers, grifters, and plain old idiots on the make. With this sparkling debut novel, Bill Barol bids fair to become the Carl Hiaasen of SoCal." -- Kevin Baker, New York Times bestselling author of Dreamland, Paradise Alley and Strivers Row
About the Author
Bill Barol is a former Senior Writer at Newsweek, where he authored cover stories on David Letterman, Bruce Springsteen, Andrew Wyeth, and The End of the Eighties, as well as dozens of inside stories on pop culture, entertainment and the arts. His freelance journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, Slate, The Boston Globe, Fast Company, Washington Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, American Heritage and TV Guide, and on PBS. He's also been a writer/producer on television comedies including "Anything But Love," "Cafe Americain" and "Townies." He lives in Santa Monica, CA.
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It's worth reading this article [...] where Mr. Barol details the decision making process he went through in deciding to make his book available for nearly free after being rejected by multiple publishers.
The novel itself is about a duo of con artists that take on jobs as assassins for wealthy customers who have a certain person they want to get rid of, usually a spouse. The con artists charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for their services and promise that they'll be extremely thorough. Once they go to make the hit, they confront the target and explain the situation. They've been hired to kill the target, usually by someone the target knows/loves, but they don't really want to kill anyone, so if the target can come up with their fee (usually another couple hundred thousand dollars) they will essentially pull a "witness protection"; new identity, new location, new life. However, their latest target manages to slip away before they can seal the deal and ends up causing some major problems for them.
I'll admit that the ending came a bit obviously, but not in a horribly disappointing way. I found that the development and dynamics of the characters carried the story and really proved that there was more to this author than his slightly interesting story premise.
I'll avoid talking too much about this one, because I do believe that it's actually worth reading yourself. Especially at the value price.
I felt some of the same excitement while reading "Thanks for Not Killing Me," thinking I knew where the plot of this comic caper novel was headed, only to have it snap into an unexpected direction. Very cool. And the sensation gets boosted by the way the author rounds off each chapter beautifully, with a surprise or a punch line or well-turned phrase. I had trouble putting the book down, because the momentum of the prose made me want to keep having a good time.
I won't say much about the basic set-up of the novel, so as not to give anything away, but two con men have cooked up an ingenious scheme that allows them to reap big bucks from nasty rich people. One of the duo, compared to Owen Wilson, has charm and persuasiveness as his talents. The other, not compared to anybody, but I thought of Dennis Franz of "NYPD Blue," provides savvy and muscle and scariness. When their cash cow goes dry, the maneuvering of this duo is very entertaining and, at times, very funny.
The writing has a cinematic vividness, which makes me think it could be turned into a very good movie.
A couple of months after reading this book, I picked it up again and I enjoyed it even more, despite knowing where the story was headed. Kind of like the Wild Mouse, which excited me although I knew that I wasn't going to ride the car off the rails. I like the lighter crime fiction of Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen, and I think Bill Barol is right up there with them. I can't wait for his next book.
At the end, two characters become allies and I thought these two got to trusting each other awfully quickly and easily - given their backgrounds, didn't seem like that would be likely. As it happens, the book doesn't actually show us *how* these two decide to get past the barriers and become partners - they just do. That was a bit of a cheat, imo.
Still, amusing and entertaining. I will keep an eye out for more from Mr. Barol and will consider buying another.
This book is a waypoint on my recently-launched cyber-stalking of Bill Barol's work. I read a piece of his in The New Yorker, then I got this book, then I started working my way through his blog and online postings. He has a large body of work (although this is his first novel) - so I was surprised that I hadn't heard of him or read his work before. He's a very sharp observer and funny writer, and I look forward to more of his work.