Pest Control

( 9 )

Overview

Bob Dillon can't get a break. A down-on-his-luck exterminator, all he wants is his own truck with a big fiberglass bug on top — and success with his radical new, environmentally friendly pest-killing technique. So Bob decides to advertise.

Unfortunately, one of his flyers falls into the wrong hands. Marcel, a shady Frenchman, needs an assassin to handle a million-dollar hit, and he figures that Bob Dillon is his man. Through no fault — or participation — of his own, this ...

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Overview

Bob Dillon can't get a break. A down-on-his-luck exterminator, all he wants is his own truck with a big fiberglass bug on top — and success with his radical new, environmentally friendly pest-killing technique. So Bob decides to advertise.

Unfortunately, one of his flyers falls into the wrong hands. Marcel, a shady Frenchman, needs an assassin to handle a million-dollar hit, and he figures that Bob Dillon is his man. Through no fault — or participation — of his own, this unwitting pest controller from Queens has become a major player in the dangerous world of contract murder.

And now Bob's running for his life through the wormiest sections of the Big Apple — one step ahead of a Bolivian executioner, a homicidal transvestite dwarf, meatheaded CIA agents, cabbies packing serious heat ... and the world's number-one hit man, who might just turn out to be the best friend Bob's got.

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Editorial Reviews

Time Out New York
“...this is one roach motel you’ll gladly check into.”
Austin American-Statesman
“Pest Control is uber-contemporary, a hilarious, running-in-circles blend of droll farce and warped humor.”
National Public Radio - All Things Considered
“PEST CONTROL is an eccentrically comic take on the high-tech thriller...[it is a] strange and funny...curiously appealing little novel of intrigue”
San Antonio Express-News
“A very funny and interesting book...give it to someone who needs a good laugh.”
Poeple
“Stingingly Funny.”
Elle
“[Pest Control is]...hilarious [and] wonderful...Fitzhugh is a funny man and Pest Control is a funny book.”
Washington Post
“...a clever and satisfying debut...offbeat, engaging, and very funny reading, it is wholly successful.”
Dallas Morning News
“This debut novel is...goofy but great fun.”
All Things Considered - National Public Radio
"PEST CONTROL is an eccentrically comic take on the high-tech thriller...[it is a] strange and funny...curiously appealing little novel of intrigue"
Elle
“[Pest Control is]...hilarious [and] wonderful...Fitzhugh is a funny man and Pest Control is a funny book.”
People
Stingingly Funny.
National Public Radio
An eccentrically comic take on the high-tech thriller...strange and funny.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This debut novel, published in Britain in 1994, hinges on a delightfully buggy idea that takes full comic advantage of New York City. Bob Dillon, an unemployed pest control expert, faxes a resume in response to a carefully coded advertisement for a hired killer-"Gone private with lethal new concept!" reads Bob's exuberant pitch. Voila! He's mistaken for a top assassin. When assorted personages start dying and their demises are laid at Bob's door, the CIA gets involved. A price is put on Bob's head, luring every top-rated killer-for-hire in the world to the Big Apple, which is depicted as infinitely more dangerous than merely cold-blooded assassins. In a prime example of the book's major flaw, however, this humorous concept is set up long before it's knocked down and is then discarded far too quickly for a gruesome, bug-infested finale. Fitzhugh can't settle on a consistent attitude to his over-the-top material. Arch quotations from rock songs rub up against Bob's marital problems and the pure Hollywood fantasy of the world's top assassin, who, while tracking Bob, yearns only for a normal, middle-class family life. The uncertain pacing and tone render this comic thriller a bumpy read, but its nifty premise makes it just right for a high-concept film, which is no doubt why movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers' Spring Creek Productions for $1.25 million. Mar.
Library Journal
Fired from his job with a pest control company in Queens, New York, Bob Dillon starts his own business using his environmentally friendly technique: hybrid killer insects that eat cockroaches. Meanwhile, Marcel, a broker who contracts for assassins, is looking for a reliable newcomer to complete a million-dollar hit. He advertises and Bob responds, neither understanding the nature of the other's "exterminating" business. Very shortly thereafter, ten of the most dangerous hitpersons in the world descend on Queens, which is pretty dangerous itself and more than up to the challenge. Broadly satiric, extremely funny, and tailor-made for film rights have already been sold to Warner Brothers, this is not exactly demanding reading, but it is fun and likely to be popular. A reasonable purchase for most public libraries.-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Va.
Kirkus Reviews

A sweetly comic thriller that finally answers the age-old question: What if a sad-sack New York exterminator got his antennae crossed with the professionals who wipe out Homo sapiens?

At his wit's (and checkbook's) end after walking off his job killing bugs with lethal cocktails, Bob Dillon schemes at his own unique approach to extermination: breeding predatory strains of insects who'll feast on termites and roaches without developing chemical-resistant new strains of pests or loading the planet with hazardous toxins. It's a plan with all the makings of an American success story, but it spins out of control when Bob's ad falls into the hands of a middleman who brokers assassinations and thinks Bob's sobriquet of "the Exterminator" is a veiled reference to his status as a hit man. Getting a faint whiff of the trouble in his future, Bob begs off the lucrative job he's offered. But when the victim is accidentally killed anyway, the middleman, assuming Bob's managed the job with unusual finesse, duly sends him his fee. So far, everything's as innocuous as the endless stream of double-entendres about extermination—except that (1) the UPS package with all that lovely money gets held up en route to Bob; (2) his wife and daughter, impatient with his uncompromisingly idealistic approach to pest control, walk out on him; and (3) the brother and murderer of a Bolivian druglord who wants to cover up his own crime screams that it was the work of the Exterminator and offers a $10 million bounty to whoever kills Bob—attracting all the top exterminators in the field. There's the subtle Chinese knife expert, the glamorous Frenchwoman, the parvenu Cowboy, the transvestite dwarf, and the melancholy, suicidal top man, whose unlikely friendship with his prospective target is the high point of this generally predictable tale.

A first novel that's not sharply enough written to offer serious competition to Florida farceurs Hiaasen and Shames, but consistently sunny and good-humored.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060815301
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Fitzhugh is the author of seven novels. He still has all of his original organs and plans to keep it that way until the very end, at which point he is willing to let the doctors divvy them up among anyone (with the exception of politicians) who might need them. However, he makes no promises about the quality of his liver. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and all of her organs.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

His eyes were metallic blue jewel beetles peering out from underneath a pair of furry black caterpillars. He was in good shape for thirty-five, with broad shoulders and nicely muscled arms. A swarm of dark wavy hair topped his six-foot frame and he had a gentle smile that lent him an affable aspect, a chewy niceness. Just looking at him, you'd never guess he was a professional killer.

He lived in New York City, a place where, on average, some one was hit by gunfire every eighty-eight minutes. This annoyed him. It was hard to get noticed in such a place, and if he was going to succeed as a paid killer, he was going to need a reputation. So fight now he was out to make a name for himself-a name other than the one he had.

When he was born in October of 1957, his parents-Curtis and Edna Dillon of Newark, New Jersey-had no way of knowing that six years later Robert Allen Zimmerman of Duluth, Minnesota, would release a record and explode onto the world of rock and roll under the pseudonym Bob Dylan. So, looking back, it was purely a case of bad timing that Curtis and Edna named their son Bob.

Bob Dillon.

It was spelled differently, but it sounded the same, and that was all that mattered. As a consequence Bob Dillon endured a humiliating childhood, all too frequently being forced by neighborhood bullies to sing the Dylan classic, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35."

Bob hated this not only because his off-key rendition inevitably resulted in taunting and laughter, but also because he hated the song and couldn't understand the title. Dylan never mentioned any women, rainy day or otherwise, much less those numbered twelve and thirty-five .

Neithercould he ever understand how the song reached number two on the pop charts in 1966. To Bob, it was an endless succession of unimaginative variations on They'll stone you when you're driving in your car . . ." This carried on interminably until it reached its obtuse chorus of "Everybody must get stoned!"

Bob always imagined his childhood wouldn't have been so bad if he'd been forced to sing "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Mr. Tambourine Man"-songs he actually enjoyed. Fortunately, Bob was possessed of a resilient and compassionate character, so he never blamed his parents for the abuse he suffered at the hands of neighborhood bullies. In fact, except for the murderous profession he eventually undertook, Bob never showed the slightest ill effect resulting from his name.

So, yeah, Bob planned on making a name for himself alright, but right now he had a contract to fulfill.

He opened the door and looked down the flight of stairs leading into the darkness He hit the light switch, illuminating his khaki jumpsuit and the case he carried; it was dented and scuffed, evidence of a lot of jobs. A lot of killing.

Bob crept down the creaking wooden stairs, dodging spider webs as he descended into the dank basement. He crossed the room and set his case on the damp concrete floor; he flipped the rusting brass latches and threw it open.

As he reached into the case he glanced at his wrist and the solid-plastic Casio timepiece: 2:00 P.M. "Right on time," he muttered to a cockroach that scurried past.

With a practiced, almost mechanical, skill, Bob picked up a long, slender tube and screwed it into an exotic-looking curved wooden handle He attached a valve gate to the apparatus, then clamped one end of a hose to the tube and the other end to a small compression tank. Those tasks completed, Bob carefully pumped the plunger on the tank and then nipped the valve gate, watching as the cylinder pressure gauge jumped to three hundred pounds of attention. He smiled.

"I am here to deal death," Bob mused out loud. He chuckled to himself.

Next, he pulled a two-inch hole-drilling attachment from his case and attached it to the business end of a battery-powered Black and Decker drill. Then he tested it. Whrrrrrrzzzzzzz.

Satisfied with his tool, Bob knelt and bored a hole near the baseboard. He pulled a penlight from his pocket, peered into the hole and saw what he was there to kill: Periplaneta americana, a.k.a. the American cockroach. Dozens of them.

"If I had my way," Bob said wistfully, "your deaths would be much more dignified."

This wasn't idle chatter.

Not at all.

Pest Control. Copyright © by Bill Fitzhugh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Pest Control

Chapter One

His eyes were metallic blue jewel beetles peering out from underneath a pair of furry black caterpillars. He was in good shape for thirty-five, with broad shoulders and nicely muscled arms. A swarm of dark wavy hair topped his six-foot frame and he had a gentle smile that lent him an affable aspect, a chewy niceness. Just looking at him, you'd never guess he was a professional killer.

He lived in New York City, a place where, on average, some one was hit by gunfire every eighty-eight minutes. This annoyed him. It was hard to get noticed in such a place, and if he was going to succeed as a paid killer, he was going to need a reputation. So fight now he was out to make a name for himself-a name other than the one he had.

When he was born in October of 1957, his parents-Curtis and Edna Dillon of Newark, New Jersey-had no way of knowing that six years later Robert Allen Zimmerman of Duluth, Minnesota, would release a record and explode onto the world of rock and roll under the pseudonym Bob Dylan. So, looking back, it was purely a case of bad timing that Curtis and Edna named their son Bob.

Bob Dillon.

It was spelled differently, but it sounded the same, and that was all that mattered. As a consequence Bob Dillon endured a humiliating childhood, all too frequently being forced by neighborhood bullies to sing the Dylan classic, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35."

Bob hated this not only because his off-key rendition inevitably resulted in taunting and laughter, but also because he hated the song and couldn't understand the title. Dylan never mentioned any women, rainy day or otherwise, much less those numbered twelve and thirty-five .

Neither could he ever understand how the song reached number two on the pop charts in 1966. To Bob, it was an endless succession of unimaginative variations on They'll stone you when you're driving in your car . . ." This carried on interminably until it reached its obtuse chorus of "Everybody must get stoned!"

Bob always imagined his childhood wouldn't have been so bad if he'd been forced to sing "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Mr. Tambourine Man"-songs he actually enjoyed. Fortunately, Bob was possessed of a resilient and compassionate character, so he never blamed his parents for the abuse he suffered at the hands of neighborhood bullies. In fact, except for the murderous profession he eventually undertook, Bob never showed the slightest ill effect resulting from his name.

So, yeah, Bob planned on making a name for himself alright, but right now he had a contract to fulfill.

He opened the door and looked down the flight of stairs leading into the darkness He hit the light switch, illuminating his khaki jumpsuit and the case he carried; it was dented and scuffed, evidence of a lot of jobs. A lot of killing.

Bob crept down the creaking wooden stairs, dodging spider webs as he descended into the dank basement. He crossed the room and set his case on the damp concrete floor; he flipped the rusting brass latches and threw it open.

As he reached into the case he glanced at his wrist and the solid-plastic Casio timepiece: 2:00 P.M. "Right on time," he muttered to a cockroach that scurried past.

With a practiced, almost mechanical, skill, Bob picked up a long, slender tube and screwed it into an exotic-looking curved wooden handle He attached a valve gate to the apparatus, then clamped one end of a hose to the tube and the other end to a small compression tank. Those tasks completed, Bob carefully pumped the plunger on the tank and then nipped the valve gate, watching as the cylinder pressure gauge jumped to three hundred pounds of attention. He smiled.

"I am here to deal death," Bob mused out loud. He chuckled to himself.

Next, he pulled a two-inch hole-drilling attachment from his case and attached it to the business end of a battery-powered Black and Decker drill. Then he tested it. Whrrrrrrzzzzzzz.

Satisfied with his tool, Bob knelt and bored a hole near the baseboard. He pulled a penlight from his pocket, peered into the hole and saw what he was there to kill: Periplaneta americana, a.k.a. the American cockroach. Dozens of them.

"If I had my way," Bob said wistfully, "your deaths would be much more dignified."

This wasn't idle chatter.

Not at all.

Pest Control. Copyright © by Bill Fitzhugh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Pest Control - Good for a Few Laughs

    When I read a novel - other than a historical novel - I am looking for something that will make me feel something. Make me laugh, make me cry, do both, if possible. Any author can give me a good cutesy-tootsy story, but very few can make me feel something. Pest Control gave me more than a few laughs. The only complaint I have about it is that - if you'll pardon the pun - there was a little too much "overkill" in the plot for my taste. All these top-notch killers are getting bumped off one by one because of their stupidity. The book could have done with one or two fewer characters. Other than that, I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    Funny!

    This is a silly, slap-stick, laugh-out-loud book. A little light in the plot arena. All the same, I LOVED it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    One of the funniest books I've read

    Would have been a much faster read if I had not broken into hysterical laughter so often. Recommend reading in private, in public people will wonder if you are having a nervous breakdown!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Too, too funny!

    A silly plot concept brilliantly executed -- a very funny mistaken identity romp.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2004

    A bit cheesy with some scattered humor

    I wish I could agree with the rest of the reviewers here, but I can't. The first half of the novel moved at a disappointingly slow pace, and the 'laughs' were few and far between. I'll give Mr. Fitzhugh some credit though, he knows how to wrap up a story. It was just okay, it'll probably make a better movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2001

    Pest Control

    THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. ANYBODY WHO HAS ANY SENSE OF HUMOR SHOULD READ THIS BOOK (ESPECIALLY ANYONE DOWN ON HIS LUCK). I READ THIS BOOK ALMOST NONSTOP (QUITE A FEAT FOR ME). THEN I GAVE IT TO MY BROTHER WHO WORKS OFFSHORE. HE READ IT THEN GAVE IT TO THE CAPTAIN. HE READ IT THEN GAVE IT TO THE MAID AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. THIS GIVES YOU A HINT ON HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2001

    Pest Control

    PERHAPS THE FUNNIEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. I LET THIS BOOK SIT IN MY ROOM FOR ABOUT A YEAR BEFORE I EVEN OPENED IT. I WAS BORED AND DECIDED TO READ ONE OF THE BOOKS THAT I BOUGHT WHICH I HAD NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT YET. ONCE I STARTED READING THIS BOOK I COULDNT STOP. I READ THIS BOOK IN ABOUT 4 DAYS WHICH IS QUITE A FEAT FOR ME. THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. ANYONE WHO HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR SHOULD READ THIS BOOK AND ESPECIALLY ANYONE WHO IS DOWN AND OUT. THIS BOOK IS PERFECT FOR YOU.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2001

    Hilarious

    A laugh a page! I enjoyed this book immensely. Great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    outstanding

    Bill Fitzhugh has made the funniest book in the world! He has combined Hit men with his very own brand of exterminator. This was the FUNNIEST book i have ever read (I may tell that I've read the whole Hitchhiker's series). He races you through the book, making you never want to put it down. Adding surprise after surprise makes this novel hilarious, and it earned it self a five star rating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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