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For the Dogs

For the Dogs

5.0 2
by Kevin Wignall

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Ella is young, bereaved, and in danger.

Lucas is ruthless, brutal, and cold.

Think again.

Ella is bitter, determined, and dangerous.

Lucas is vulnerable and lovelorn.

Ella Hatto is on vacation in Italy with her boyfriend.

It's a beautiful summer evening in a small Tuscan town, and her life is all about the things she doesn't know.

She doesn't know her


Ella is young, bereaved, and in danger.

Lucas is ruthless, brutal, and cold.

Think again.

Ella is bitter, determined, and dangerous.

Lucas is vulnerable and lovelorn.

Ella Hatto is on vacation in Italy with her boyfriend.

It's a beautiful summer evening in a small Tuscan town, and her life is all about the things she doesn't know.

She doesn't know her family is dead.

She doesn't know she's being watched, or that she's in danger.

She doesn't know how rich she is or the murky truth of where that money came from.

She doesn't know that a man is about to cross the street, ending her old life forever.

When Lucas, a retired contract killer, agrees to help her avenge her family's death, Ella is drawn into a world she cannot control, a world from which Lucas wants only to escape.

For the Dogs is a stunning thriller in which avenging the past becomes a deadly business that never ends.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this slim, fast-paced page-turner, Wignall returns to one of the themes of his well-received first novel, People Die-the sympathetic hit man who has, if not exactly a conscience, extended internal considerations of the moral implications of his trade. Stephen Lucas, a recently retired, emotionally stunted hit man, emerges from his Swiss hideaway as a favor to old friend Londoner Mark Hatto, who hires Lucas to surreptitiously guard his daughter, bright, extroverted Ella, while she's vacationing in Italy with her boyfriend. After Ella's entire family is murdered, Lucas foils several serious attempts on Ella's life, and the two of them form an odd, almost familial relationship. The boyfriend soon drops out of the picture as the hit man reluctantly helps Ella exact revenge on those who killed her family. There's plenty of action, but it's the twisting, turning, complicated relationship between Ella and Lucas that forms the core of this compelling novel. Most popular genre writers allow and even encourage the category elements-action, adventure, suspense-to subsume the literary ones, but Wignall concentrates instead on the questions of character and motivation that make for a deeper reading experience. The names le Carre, Simenon and recent British mystery author Mark Billingham come to mind, making this a blend of old and new masters wrapped up in an original, finely hewn effort. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a chilling tale of revenge, second-novelist Wignall's second (after People Die, 2002) follows a young Englishwoman deeper and deeper into the pit as she seeks to avenge her family's murder. Sometimes fate makes you grow up very quickly: Ella Hatto, for example, was transformed overnight from a carefree university student on holiday with her boyfriend into an orphan with a price on her head. While Ella was backpacking through Italy, someone broke into her family's home in England and killed her father, mother, and brother-and, at almost precisely the same moment, two gunmen came out of a crowd and nearly shot Ella herself. She was saved by a mysterious hit-man named Lucas, who had been secretly hired by Ella's father to guard her. Lucas manages to get Ella safely back to England, where she discovers (in her next great shock) that she is now an immensely rich woman, having inherited a vast fortune that her father had made through drugs, armaments, and money-laundering. Reluctant to cooperate too fully with the police for fear of revealing the source of her father's income, Ella turns to Lucas for help in finding out who killed her family. Following a scent that leads from London to Budapest to the Caribbean, she delves into a strange new world of contract killers, offshore banks, and false identities as she becomes more and more consumed with a lust for revenge. Young, emotional, and headstrong, Ella has no patience for the (surprisingly strict) code of conduct that prevails in this underworld, and it's only a matter of time before she steps over the line. What was it that St. Paul said about the wages of sin?Sharp, bleak, and compelling: Wignall's world is darker than anything imaginedin Hammett or Chandler. Agent: Deborah Schneider/ Gelfman Schneider

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
0.51(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Seventeen-year-old boys die in car crashes, they die of meningitis, rare forms of cancer, suicide. Mostly, they don't die at all. They pass through the age, shedding awkwardness and anger and self-loathing on the way.

Ben Hatto was a seventeen-year-old close to bursting with anger. He was angry with his parents for stifling just about every plan he'd had for the summer ahead, angry with his sister, too, for spending the second successive summer traveling with someone from college, angry with school and life and everything else.

There was no teen awkwardness about him, but he made up for it in self-loathing, centered at the moment on his hopeless infatuation with Alice Shaw, a girl completely out of his league, who thought of him as a friend if she thought of him at all. And today someone had asked him outright if he had a crush on her, and that's where he was now, one feeble panicky denial away from total social humiliation.

He lay on his bed as the light faded, head propped up on a pillow, headphones with metal pounding, holding the world at bay. He'd eaten early, pasta. His parents had probably just finished their own dinner downstairs, hardly aware that he was even in the house with them.

His eyes were closed and he was thinking how he'd just have to ignore Alice completely through the final couple of weeks. If one person suspected something, so would others and he'd become a laughing stock. So he'd play it cool with her, and over the summer he'd get his act together and then maybe it wouldn't seem so ridiculous that he liked someone that beautiful. Maybe.

It was something he could believe in for as long as he lay there, that he could be good-looking enough, cool enough, interesting enough for someone like her, that he could speak to her and say what he wanted to say, what he felt, and not the mess of words that actually came out. Lying there he could be everything he needed to be.

The trouble came when he left the security of his room, the posters, music, books, as though his personality was locked up in those familiar surroundings. He just wished for once that he could walk out of there, leave the house and not have everything fall apart, to be able to express himself, to be cool.

A track ended, and in the two-second digital hush he heard his door open. He kept his eyes closed, let the next track explode into his ears, wanting whoever it was just to go away. Then for one hopeful moment he imagined it being someone other than his parents — it was crazy, but if she were to come there, she might get to know him for who he really was, and then things might be different.

He opened his eyes. It wasn't one of his parents. It took him another second or two to take in the man standing there. Ben didn't know who it was and couldn't work out the expression on the stranger's face, either, one of regret, or like someone about to break bad news.

Their eyes met. Confused, Ben reached up to take off the headphones. The stranger lifted his arm swiftly at the same time, and the headphones were still in place, the music still pounding, when Ben felt something hit him hard on the head.

That was the last thing he felt, because Ben Hatto had just become a statistic in a subgroup almost entirely his own, seventeen-year-old boys killed in their own homes by professional hit men.

The killer made his way back down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen where Pamela Hatto lay on the floor in front of the open dishwasher, her blood speckled across the freshly rinsed dishes she'd been stacking.

He passed through the hallway, stepping carefully over the pool of Mark Hatto's blood that had crept and expanded across the tile floor in the few minutes since he'd shot him. He eased the front door shut behind him, got back in his car, and drove away.

The house he left was silent, the only noise the faint tinny racket of Ben's headphones, a false life sign, like the lights that were on here and there around the place. From the outside that's how it looked, like nothing was wrong, an affluent family home at peace on a summer's evening.

That affluence was visible too in the distance between the Hattos' house and those of their neighbors, the growing number of lights isolated from each other in the lightly wooded garden landscape. This wealth was private, unobtrusive, the kind that would leave the deaths unnoticed for the night, the dead undisturbed.

But an earth tremor had taken place here, and however slowly, the shock waves would ripple out from the epicenter of the Hatto household, undermining the stability of people's lives at ever greater distances.

A few hundred yards away their immediate neighbors were going about their own business, oblivious of the ghoulish adrenaline rush that would sweep them all up in the next twenty-four hours as the legion of TV crews, journalists and photographers would make this quiet neighborhood its own.

Further off, but still less than two miles away, the Shaw family was enjoying a barbecue with friends. Alice was there; happy, a little drunk on red wine, unaware that her feelings for Ben Hatto, confused as they were, would soon take on a lifelong significance, a mantle of sadness and regret and lost opportunity.

Five miles away in the nearest town, the CID unit had no idea they were about to have their first murder case in two years. Nor could they yet know who'd been living among them, or that within twenty-four hours they'd be announcing to the media that Mark Hatto's business affairs had been "complex," a shorthand way of telling the public not to worry, that this guy had brought it upon himself.

And thousands of miles away, in a small town in Italy, the place where the true force of the tremor would be measured, a daughter, a sister, someone the police would need to contact to break the tragic news. And too late, it would be the detective who turned off Ben Hatto's music who realized that perhaps the boy's sister was also in danger.

He'd stand there dwelling on the pointlessness of it, the fact that the kid clearly hadn't disturbed anyone, that the killer had known he was there, sought him out. And he alone would realize that this feud was total and that Ella Hatto, wherever she was, if she was still alive, was perhaps in as much danger as if she'd been in this house herself.

Copyright © 2004 by Kevin Wignall

Meet the Author

Kevin Wignall is the author of three novels, For the Dogs, People Die, and Among the Dead, and a number of acclaimed short stories. His work has inspired musicians and other artists, and both Who Is Conrad Hirst? and For the Dogs have been optioned for film. Visit the author at www.kevinwignall.com.

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For the Dogs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two people, two stories, two vastly different endings. When a hitman enters the Hatto household and ruthlessly kills everyone within, it begins a ripple effect that will be felt half way across the world. Ella Hatto relaxes in Montecatini, Italy with her boyfriend Chris when she chances a glance at a stranger sitting at a table across the street. She¿s certain she¿s seen him before. But why would a strange man be following them through Italy? She looks away for a second and when she look back, the man looks down the street, gets out of his chair and reaches into his shirt for something. A gun. As he makes his way across the street towards her, Ella jumps up and grabs Chris. Shots are fired. But not from the strange man at Ella. He is firing at two men down the street. Both men now lay on the ground. When he reaches Ella he says simply, ¿Come with me,¿ and Ella¿s life changes forever. And so does the life of the man sent to protect her. Lucas has come out of retirement in order to get Ella safely out of Italy and into the confines of the British consulate in Switzerland. He expects to do his job and sink back into the mundane oblivion life has been for him. Spending most of his time with books, Lucas is not comfortable handling the shattered girl and the sullen boyfriend. When he gives them safe haven in his own house before taking them to Switzerland, his contact with Ella reminds him of a past he¿d tried hard to forget. A past that included a daughter he¿d never met. He sets his mind on finding her after discharging his duty to the girl that inspired this rush of nostalgia. Ella¿s life after Lucas is a downward spiral of sadness and rage. With everyone admonishing her to get over it and get on with her life, Ella feels isolated, misunderstood and sick with grief. She comes to believe there can be only one cure. Revenge. And, there is only one man that can help her. Lucas agrees to this last job, hoping that the death of the man that killed her family will bring her peace. But it unleashes events that can¿t be stopped. Events that lead one of them to redemption and the other to death. With For the Dogs (in addition to 2001¿s People Die and Among the Dead in 2002,) Wignall is establishing a voice as a modern noir writer with roots deeply immersed in the classics. His allusions to the Nibelungenlied (translated by A.T. Hatto) confirm the depths behind the plot. This in no way translates to a dry epic with a sluggish pace. It is an in depth exploration of death and isolation propelled by the twin conduit of revenge and redemption. The label `thriller¿ is heaped on his novels and justifiably so. There is plenty of action and his characters operate under constant threat. Wignall¿s writing is sharp, fluid and rich with a pace that can very easily keep hapless readers glued to the pages until the final resolution.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One night a gunman enters the Hatto house and kills the father, mother and son. It has all the earmarks of a professional hit. Their teenage daughter Ella is in Italy with her boyfriend when two men aim guns aim at her. Out of nowhere before they can murder her, a third gunman kills them. Lucas tells them that Ella¿s father hired him to watch over them in their travels............................... He informs Ella that her family is dead; she does not understand why someone would order professional hits on an ordinary middle class family. Lucas tells her that her father once operated on the wrong side of the law, selling drugs and armaments as well as laundering money. When she returns to England, Ella gives the police time to find her family¿s killer, but they fail. Ella is determined to take the law into her own hands. She hires Lucas to find out who destroyed her family and then she will deal with them personally................................. There is a lot of action in FOR THE DOGS but the heart of this book lies with the two main characters Ella and Lucas. She becomes more like the man Lucas once was, a cold, remote loner intent on personally make the people who destroyed her life pay while Lucas is moving in the opposite direction. After his business with Ella is finished, he wants to connect with his daughter and reconnect with the only woman he ever loved. Kevin Wignall¿s prose is stark yet eloquent as his latest thriller is exciting and heartbreaking.............................. Harriet Klausner