The New York Times Book Review
The Killer Is Dying: A Novelby James Sallis
In what is at one and the same time a coming-of-age novel, a realistic crime novel and a novel of the contemporary Southwest, The Killer Is
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A hired killer on his final job, a burned-out detective whose wife is dying slowly and in agony, a young boy abandoned by his parents and living alone by his wits. Three people, solitary and sundered from society.
In what is at one and the same time a coming-of-age novel, a realistic crime novel and a novel of the contemporary Southwest, The Killer Is Dying is above all the story of three men of vastly different age and background, and of the shape their lives take against the unforgiving sunlight and sprawl of America's fifth largest city, Phoenix.
The detective is looking for the killer, Christian, though he doesn't know that. Christian is trying to find the man who stepped in and took down his target before he had the chance. And the boy, Jimmie, is having the killer's dreams. While they never meet, through the course of the novel, all find community.
The New York Times Book Review
Sallis' latest prose-poem entangles a hit man's last days with a Phoenix cop's search for him and an abandoned boy who's tormented by the killer's dreams.
Minutes before the veteran killer who calls himself Christian plans to execute his latest target, someone else takes his shot—someone a lot less effective than he is. Now accountant John Rankin is hospitalized but very much alive, and homicide detective Dale Sayles, who naturally knows nothing of Christian's existence, is left to wonder why anyone would take a shot at him. By the time Sayles, whose beloved wife Josie is dying, and his partner Graves, a newbie who's so full of attitude that he spends a night in jail after running off his mouth to an impatient judge, get a line on the shooter, they've stumbled onto the trail of the killer they call Dollman because of the way he identifies himself to prospective clients and others: "I sell dolls." Meanwhile, across town, Jimmie Kostof, an enterprising teen who really has been selling dolls and other toys through his own mail-order business ever since his parents left him on his own, is troubled by violent third-person dreams he finds scary but meaningless. His dreams are just one more example of how "the world speaks to us in so many languages...and we understand so few."
Sallis (Salt River,2007, etc.) takes his time weaving together the lives of these lost souls, each apparently as aimless as the bugs and birds they can't help noticing. The payoff is a moment of well-nigh miraculous consolation.
- Bloomsbury USA
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- Barnes & Noble
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Meet the Author
James Sallis is the acclaimed author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism, including the Lew Griffin series, Drive (optioned to Hollywood, movie underway), Cypress Grove, Cripple Creek, and Salt River. His biography of the great crime writer Chester Himes is an acknowledged classic. Sallis lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Karyn, and an enormous white cat.
James Sallis is the author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism, including the Lew Griffin cycle and Drive. His biography of the great crime writer Chester Himes is an acknowledged classic. Sallis lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Karyn, and an enormous white cat.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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When I read the synopsis on Goodreads, I was intrigued, thinking it sounded like it would be a good crime/mystery novel. It wasn't a story that immediately grabbed my attention and kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next, though. For me, it was a case of turning the pages trying to understand. The chapters flow seamlessly; however, it takes a beat or two for you to realize that the character point of view has changed. The stories of the three primary characters are not interwoven yet somehow are connected. The Killer is Dying is a very well written story. It's a good story that I liked and at the same time found frustrating. And, while not my favorite book, I would recommend it.