Killing the Rabbit

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Overview

Murder is the main attraction in this dark and wickedly comic new thriller that follows a young indie filmmaker on her way to fame, fortune, and a shoot-out to the death.

Hannie Reynard landed every aspiring filmmaker’s dream: a hefty grant to make her documentary Freaks or Frauds. But the groundbreaking film that was supposed to launch Hannie’s career may kill her first. Blowing the grant money on a lost weekend in Paris was bad enough, but now the “stars” of her film–women who...

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Overview

Murder is the main attraction in this dark and wickedly comic new thriller that follows a young indie filmmaker on her way to fame, fortune, and a shoot-out to the death.

Hannie Reynard landed every aspiring filmmaker’s dream: a hefty grant to make her documentary Freaks or Frauds. But the groundbreaking film that was supposed to launch Hannie’s career may kill her first. Blowing the grant money on a lost weekend in Paris was bad enough, but now the “stars” of her film–women who share a unique genetic trait–have stopped talking…and started disappearing.

Coupled with a burned-out ex-classmate hitching his own hopes for a comeback to her project, Hannie finds herself the unlikely co-star of a movie that will never be made if a very powerful someone has anything to say about it. For Hannie is already in the crosshairs of his chief “cameraman”–a ruthlessly unconventional hit man who never misses a lethal shot.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Even for a suspense thriller protagonist, Goodman's Hannie Reynard encounters some seriously grisly stuff-and that's before she even leaves the bathroom. The heroine, an Australian documentary filmmaker, suffers from Crohn's disease, a chronic, incurable bowel disorder that can be, well, pretty gross ("She had hunched on the cold toilet for fifteen minutes, pushing out small globules of mucus and blood"). But illness doesn't deter her from aggressively pursuing her latest project, a film about young women considered medical "freaks"; Hannie's real problem is that her interview subjects are being mysteriously evasive. When they start dropping dead, Hannie and her partner, Mosson Ferret, a bean counter from the Independent Film Fund, are unwittingly thrown into the midst of a murderous international plot. Meanwhile, Hannie's got a dark secret to protect that, if revealed, could jeopardize her career and her budding romance with Mosson; Mosson, meanwhile, has a secret of his own he's trying to keep. Unfortunately, Goodman spends too much time with the minutiae of her (admittedly vivid) characters to deliver much suspense, which may leave readers with a chronic case of the snoozes. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553590111
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/31/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison is the author of Singing the Dogstar Blues, a science-fiction comedy thriller, which won an Aurealis Award for best Young Adult Novel, was listed as Children’s Book Council Notable Book, and was shortlisted for the 1999 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. In 2003 it was also published in the US and was recently listed as an American Library Association Best Young Adult Book of 2004.

Alison lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband, Ron, and their two exuberant Parson Russell Terriers, Xander and Spike. She was the 1999 D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at Melbourne University, holds a Master of Arts, and teaches creative writing at a postgraduate level.

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Read an Excerpt

Killing the Rabbit


By Alison Goodman

Bantam

Copyright © 2007 Alison Goodman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780553590111

An Extraordinary Outsourcing


THE FORECASTER COULD COME TO ONLY ONE CONCLUSION: there was no company protocol for hiring an assassin.

He looked through his glass partition at the neat rows of junior salarymen and women working on the next five-year plan. The failure to find a protocol was unsettling—he'd even delicately asked his network of senior colleagues, those men who had completed induction with him thirty years ago, if there was a covert procedure for such an extraordinary outsourcing. None had understood the question. Or perhaps they had chosen not to understand. It was the first time his network had failed.

The Forecaster separated the keys on his chain, rubbing his thumb over the small box shape that unlocked his desk drawer. He had not made any mistakes in his career with the Company—it was why he was sitting in this large office overseeing a department—but he knew the two plain folders in the drawer were a huge risk, to the Company and to himself.

It had started as a private project—a stretching of his forecasting muscles, a secret vanity. Always done after hours in his small apartment, it was a way to fill in the time between working days. And even on Sundays, family service day, he only had to put it aside for twenty minutes at 2 p.m. to take the weekly phone call from his wife. Fifteen years ago she had returned to Tokyo with their only child. Shehad been right to do so—their son had to attend the best schools if he was to secure a place in a respectable company. The boy was working hard at university, his wife always assured him. He would receive good offers when he graduated. After each Sunday call, the Forecaster allowed himself the luxury of sitting at his apartment window overlooking the cityscape of Harare and imagining the future successes of his son. Perhaps a division manager before he was forty-five. And then the Forecaster would laugh at the audacious thought and pull the curtain across the sweeping view, turning his vivid imagination to another future: the future of the Company.

The Forecaster slid the key into the drawer lock, rotating it easily in the well-oiled mechanism. He lifted his eyes and studied the movements of his staff—dark-suited men and women coverging and breaking away like a slowly turned kaleidoscope—but no one was moving towards him. He opened the drawer. A plain folder slid into view, the small black title stark on the cream cover:
Osagi-Fowler Pharmaceuticals
Two-Hundred-Year Plan


The Forecaster allowed a ripple of satisfaction to move through his body. He picked up the folder and laid it facedown on his desk. No one else in the history of the Company had ever attempted a two-hundred-year plan. No one else had the talent.

Which is why, a week ago at the executive ringi, the unanimous acclaim of his forty-year plan prompted him to override his natural caution and approach the Director. The committee had lauded his forecasting skills, acknowledging the fulfillment of his past prophecies with sharp bobs of their gray heads. But it was the Director's rare words of congratulation that had filled him with sudden courage.

The Forecaster paused, remembering that moment: the tilt of the Director's head, the smile like that of a proud parent, and then, "You are our secret weapon, Tanaka-san." He still felt the fullness in his blood at such recognition.

At the close of the ringi, the Forecaster had lingered at the conference table until the Director was alone. Then, bowing low, he presented the folder, holding his breath as the Director read the label.

"Two hundred years, Tanaka-san?" The surprise was shadowed by a frown.

"It was completed in my spare time, sir," the Forecaster assured him.

"I will read it with interest."

The Forecaster bowed again and left the room, the sudden separation from the plan as sharp and hollowing as though he were giving up a beloved son.

Now the folder was back with him. He laid his hand on the smooth manila binding. It was his best work; a brilliant long-term strategy that would bring huge profit to the Company with developments in its massive contraceptive market. In his midnight moments of fervent loyalty, the Forecaster even went so far as to call it his great legacy. There was only one thing that could destroy its projected outcomes.

He turned his attention to the other cream folder that lay in the drawer: the source of the problem. A report from the medical research arm of the Company:
The "Rabbit Woman" Mutation
Projected Evolution of X-Chromosome Mutation No. 7865


The Forecaster had understood the subtext of the report: the Rabbit Woman mutation, if left unchecked, would result in a lost market for female contraceptive drugs. Not for many generations, of course, but eventually women would have complete control over their own fertility. It was inevitable—a natural evolution of the species—and the Forecaster was not so foolish as to believe he could stop evolution. He just needed to slow it down. For two hundred years.

And there was only one way to delay evolution.

The Director had said as much in their private meeting three days ago.

The summons to the Director's office had specified a time well after hours. A man with less experience would probably have misinterpreted it as an ill omen. The Forecaster recognized it as suitable security for such an important report.

"An interesting conclusion, Tanaka-san," the Director had said, motioning the Forecaster to sit opposite him. "You believe the Rabbit Woman mutation will close down the female contraceptive market?"

"Eventually, Director," the Forecaster said.

"It is a pity that we cannot stop the spread of the mutation." The Director looked up from the folder, his face expressionless. "What would be your solution to this problem, Tanaka-san?"

The Forecaster stiffened in his chair. He had never been asked for a solution before; problem-solving was the privilege of the inner circle. Was this his chance to move into the Executive? Perhaps he could finally satisfy his wife's long-distance ambitions. He heard her thin disappointment pulsing in his head; more power, more money, more prestige. But did he dare voice the expedient course of action? It had come to him in the loneliest hour of another sleepless night, the scheme inspired by a tenet from Art of War, the ancient study of strategy. A general plans for what is difficult while it is still easy.

"Such a problem must be stopped in as many cases as possible. As early as possible," he said, his voice loud with his own boldness. "To limit the impact."

The Director grunted. "Yes, as many cases as possible, as early as possible. To limit the impact." For a moment their gazes locked and the Forecaster was sure he saw respect in the older man's eyes. "A most strategic solution, Tanaka-san." The Director closed the file and pushed it across the desk. "Your record speaks for itself, but the Board cannot act on such a long-term prediction. The forty-year plan is the extent of their scope. Do you understand?"

The Forecaster had stared at the folder in front of him, and understood. First, a private meeting and now the return of the plan with a cloaked message. The honor was too great, but he would prove himself worthy. He bowed.

"It is my turn to make a prediction now," the Director said, and smiled, inviting the Forecaster to join him in the small joke. "Continue with such loyalty and you will one day join the Executive."

Overcome, the Forecaster almost touched his head to the desk in a low bow. "Thank you, Director. I will always do my best for the Company."

The Director nodded. "I know you will."

The Forecaster had not seen the Director since that meeting, but he still felt the thread of collusion that connected them.

He picked up the mutation research folder from the drawer and flipped it open to the contact details of the employee in charge of the investigation. Dr. Salvatore Famagusta. First, he would obtain a list of names from the doctor. And then, starting from that evening, he would go to the small bar near his apartment and wait for the Irishman from the mining company to come in again. A few months ago, the Irishman had bought him a drink and struck up a conversation that had ended in them bellowing out a much applauded duet of "Paint It Black." If the Forecaster's own network could not help him, then perhaps he could use the network of a gaijin mercenary.

The First Deal

TWO RED-WRAPPED TAPES


HANNIE REYNARD WAS HANGING UPSIDE DOWN from her hallway ceiling in a new pair of gravity boots when a letter shot through the front-door slot. The envelope arced towards Hannie's forehead, and in the second before it hit her, she recognized the red logo of the Independent Filmmakers Fund. Fuck, they've found out, she thought as she swayed backwards. On the return swing, she snatched up the letter.

"You should get down," Jezza called from the lounge room. "I read in Women's Health that you shouldn't hang upside down when you've got your period. Makes you sterile."

Hannie ripped the top off the envelope, tearing the letter inside. She'd been hanging too long and her hands were hot and stiff.

"Apparently all the blood goes up your tubes," Jezza added.

Hannie unfolded the letter. There was something vulnerable about reading upside down, so she tucked her chin up against her chest and held the letter close to her face.


Dear Ms. Reynard, it read.


It has come to the attention of this office that you have failed to lodge the last two progress reports for your documentary Freaks or Frauds. Also, a substantial discrepancy between your grant account lines and your original budget has been detected. Consequently, an investigation . . .


Hannie scanned the rest of the letter:


 . . . make all records available
 . . . appointment of an administrator
 . . . meeting next week


She came to the signature: Mosson J. Ferret. Acting Finance Manager.

Mosson Ferret. They'd been in the same Advanced Film Editing class about ten years ago. Every Tuesday afternoon she'd sat behind his knobbly line of neck vertebrae and watched the flare of the overhead light slide across his bald skull. Someone had told her that Mosson had no hair on his body at all, not even up his nose. Hannie had wondered if that meant pubes too. He'd only spoken to her once.

"You're Hannie, right?" He had screwed his body around in the cramped seat until one of his back bones jutted like a dorsal fin.

Hannie nodded. No eyebrows, she noted. She leaned forward. Or eyelashes. The bareness seemed to blur the Japanese curve of his eyes.

"Can you lend me ten bucks?" he said. "I can pay you back next week."

"What's it for?" Hannie asked.

"I've got a job interview. I need to buy a shirt."

"What's the job?"

"Shit-kicker at the IFF," Mosson said. "Every other film nut will be after it, but I'm feeling lucky."

A mutual friend later told Hannie that Mosson Ferret was the luckiest bastard alive. He didn't return to the college, and his Advanced Editing seat was taken by Jeffrey Landis, whose neck was hidden by a thick pelt of black hair.

It was possible that Hannie would have forgotten Mosson Ferret and her ten dollars, but one afternoon near the end of that final year, she found his unfinished graduation work. It was lying at the back of a drawer in the college editing suite. Two videotapes wrapped in a red plastic bag. Two hours of brilliant film work. Just lying around.

"The manual says you should only hang upside down for five minutes. You've been up there for ten. Your head will explode, you know."

Hannie dropped the letter away from her face and saw the dusty underside of Jezza's knees.

"I'm in big trouble," she said. "Read this." She held the letter up towards Jezza's hands.

"Let's get you down first," Jezza said, edging past Hannie. "I can't talk to you properly when you're like that."

"I've been sprung by the IFF," Hannie said.

From behind, Hannie felt Jezza grab her under the arms and push her up towards the bar across the ceiling.

"Gee, you don't even weigh as much as a sixteen-channel sound desk," Jezza said. "You okay?"

Jezza was a roadie and Hannie had seen her lift old-fashioned twenty-four-channel sound desks by herself with no problem; the woman was built like a brick shit-house. A very good thing too, Hannie thought as she grabbed the bar and hauled herself into a shaky stomach crunch. A less Amazonian friend wouldn't be able to rescue her—she'd be stuck upside down until all her blood hammered its way out of her ears. She leaned back into Jezza's steady grip and fumbled to unhook the left gravity boot.

"Can you push me up a bit more?"

She felt herself rise and quickly unhooked both feet. Jezza eased her to the ground.

"Are you going to faint?" she asked. "You look really pale."

"I'm fine," Hannie said, but her next words drained away with the blood-rush back through her body. She held out the letter, feeling for the wall behind her with her other hand.

"Go sit down," Jezza said. She took the piece of paper, holding the ripped corner in place as she carefully read the words.

Hannie walked towards the kitchen, her hands slapping the damp-cracked walls for support.

"The bastards are going to take my film off me."

"It doesn't say that," Jezza said, following her up the hallway. "It says that pending an investigation, an administrator will be appointed."

Hannie sat down at the kitchen table. Jezza didn't understand. Appointing an administrator meant sending round an IFF Nazi. Hannie knew what he would find in his investigation too: a thirty-thousand-dollar trip to Paris in the general-expenses account line. Her original project budget had only allowed ten thousand dollars for travel. Paris would be considered a bit off the beaten track. Especially for a documentary about three medical freaks in Australia.

"I'm an idiot," Hannie said. "Why did I ever think I could get away with it? I've never gotten away with anything in my whole life." Except for two red-wrapped tapes. The sharp flick of memory hunched her over the table.

"Then why did you do it?"

Hannie rubbed at a dried spill on the worn Formica top. She couldn't tell Jezza the real reason why she'd suddenly stopped pre-production of her film and flown to Paris. How could she explain the ugly betrayal of her body and the creeping loss of confidence?

"It's not fair," she finally said. "Everybody uses their grant to go overseas. Why am I the only sucker who gets found out?"

"Probably because everybody else gets their figures right," Jezza said. "You've got to admit, spending thirty grand on a holiday is a bit out of order." She sat on the stool opposite Hannie and hooked her work-boot heels over the footrest so that her long legs frogged on either side. "Sister Mary Joseph used to tell me that God forgives all sins except failing maths." She laid the letter on the table between them.

Continues...

Excerpted from Killing the Rabbit by Alison Goodman Copyright © 2007 by Alison Goodman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Hannie Reynard is embarrassed and a bit frightened as she wasted her Independent Filmmakers Fund grant on a weekend in Paris. Now, the acting finance director Mosson J. Ferret is auditing her books. She remembers him from film school before he dropped out. However, Hannie is unaware that Mosson is bored and wants to get behind the camera he plans to ¿blackmail¿ her into letting him film her documentary, Freaks or Frauds on women containing a gene mutation that enables them to naturally kill their fetus by reabsorbing it she would direct. --- At the same time, the Forecaster drew up a two hundred year strategic plan for his Company Osaga-Fowler Pharmaceutical, but knows that the firm could be in trouble due to the ¿RabbitWoman Mutation¿ that enables some human females to self absorb a fetus thus if this internal abortion mutation spreads as the Forecaster expects based on Darwinism, the Company¿s best selling contraceptive line would sink and consequently so will the firm though generations into the future. His job .is to insure all females who contain the mutation die. Soon the filmmakers and the Company¿s subcontracted help will meet as the Freaks are being eliminated. --- This is a dark tale that extrapolates Japanese long term planning and a woman¿s reproductive rights to extremes that will leave the audience wondering how business firms and right to life groups would behave if a long term natural challenge to their respective positions occur. In this case, murder is the obvious weapon of the Company, but the right to life groups¿ reaction was never explored. Thus the audience obtains a tense thriller based on a fascinating premise that focuses too much on the hits rather than on how society reacts to the RabbitWoman mutation. This tale is entertaining and exciting on the other hand KILLING THE RABBIT is of those that could have been a classic thought provoker. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2009

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