Who Is Conrad Hirst?

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Overview

Who is Conrad Hirst? Knowing the answer could get you killed. Not knowing could get him killed.

Conrad Hirst is a hired killer working for a German crime boss. Disturbed by the death of his girlfriend ten years earlier and still bearing the scars of post-traumatic stress after serving as a mercenary, he's valued precisely because of how broken he is, by how coldly he kills, by the solitary existence he leads.

But something has happened on ...

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Who Is Conrad Hirst?

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Overview

Who is Conrad Hirst? Knowing the answer could get you killed. Not knowing could get him killed.

Conrad Hirst is a hired killer working for a German crime boss. Disturbed by the death of his girlfriend ten years earlier and still bearing the scars of post-traumatic stress after serving as a mercenary, he's valued precisely because of how broken he is, by how coldly he kills, by the solitary existence he leads.

But something has happened on Conrad's most recent job that's shattered his equilibrium and left him determined to quit. Fortunately for him, there's a simple way to leave the business and begin life anew: Only four people know who he is and what he's done — kill those four people, and Conrad is a free man.

A simple plan, but life is never that simple, and as Conrad's scheme unravels, he quickly realizes he isn't the only one doing the killing. With the certainties of his life crumbling around him, he's no longer sure whom he's been working for, or why, or what they want of him now. In fact, he can't even answer the ever-looming and ominous question: Who is Conrad Hirst?

Fast-paced, dark, and disturbing, Kevin Wignall's newest page-turner is the story of a broken young man seeking retribution against those who have used him for their own gain, and of the devastating secret that fuels his anger. It is a story of identity and loss, of missed opportunities and the cruelty of fate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thinking person's thriller that'll keep you up all night, flipping pages with sweaty fingers! Wignall's Who Is Conrad Hirst? races from start to finish, setting new standards for crime fiction. A brilliant premise, perfectly executed." — Jeffery Deaver, author of The Sleeping Doll and The Bone Collector

"Who Is Conrad Hirst? is a classic espionage novel in the tradition of Ambler, Deighton, and early Le Carré. It reminds me of everything that first thrilled me about this genre." — Joseph Finder, author of Power Play and Killer Instinct

"Brilliant and mesmerizing, Who Is Conrad Hirst? explores the psychology of the ruthless killer with breakneck plotting, beautiful writing, and an ending that will leave you devastated." — Olen Steinhauer, author of Liberation Movements and 36 Yalta Boulevard

Richard Lipez
…this thriller is brisk and to the point. And it does not traffic in euphemisms.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

British author Wignall (For the Dogs) successfully channels Robert Ludlum in this lean, muscular thriller with more than a few parallels to Ludlum's Jason Bourne series. Conrad Hirst, a remorseless European hit man burnt out by a life of violence, plans to walk away from the business by eliminating the only four people who know his identity. Of course, it isn't that simple. Hirst's first target, Frank Dillon, admits as he's dying that he has lied to Hirst consistently about Hirst's true employer. Later, Hirst learns that the man he thought was his employer, German crime boss Julius Eberhardt, was only using Eberhardt's identity and may in fact be connected with the CIA. Hirst's ignorance of most tradecraft is a little less than plausible, as is his naïveté in trusting the attractive women he meets just as his plan hits high gear. Still, Wignall's ability to blend meaningful characterizations with suspenseful action shows a talent that many other genre writers would envy. A film, to be directed by Liam Kan and Grant Hodgson, is in the works. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A prickly hit man tenders his resignation with lots and lots of bullets in this unconventional flash of pulp fiction. British crime writer Wignall (For the Dogs, 2004, etc.) gets all Bourne again in this fast-paced thriller that borrows more than a little from the Hollywood adaptation of Ludlum's famous spy. His memory and morally challenged anti-hero is Conrad Hirst, a deeply damaged (if cold-as-ice) hit man far fonder of gunplay than unarmed combat. With deep pangs of guilt gnawing at his soul, Hirst has decided it's time for his gold watch, or whatever reward criminals get when they retire. A veteran of the Balkan wars with the scars to prove it, the British assassin believes he's been working for a vast criminal empire for the past decade, killing anyone his boss puts on the list. Determined to escape his felonious career, Hirst decides to kill the only four men who can positively identify him, starting with his handler, a weapons supplier and a documents forger. His last and final target is mastermind Julius Eberhardt. To explain his reasons for leaving, Hirst writes a lonely, romantic confession to a dead girl, Anneke, who inspires his longing for another life. The first couple of hits go fine before a nefarious conspiracy starts evolving before the killer's very eyes, bringing the titular question into play. Is Conrad a criminal, a brainwashed governmental assassin or something else entirely? It doesn't matter much either way to Hirst, who muses, "The way I see it, the underbelly of the business counts for nothing if no one's alive who can connect me to it."Wignall fails to fully exploit the exotic European locales, and the fleeting action sequences leave something to be desired.Agent: Deborah Schneider/Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents Inc.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416540724
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    mesmerizing crime thriller

    Who is Conrad Hirst? He is a hitman who has killed scores of people for German crime boss Julius Eberhardt. Now at thirty-two after killing old Klemperer he realizes he doesn¿t want to kill anymore. He knows only four people who knows who he is and what he has done his handler Frank Dillon, Eberhardt, arms dealer Freddie Fischer and forger Fabio Gaddi. He plans to kill them all and walk away into the sunset. --- As Frank is dying, he tells his killer Conrad that all these years together he lied to him. He isn¿t sure what that means until he goes to see Eberhardt and sees he isn¿t the man who recruited him almost a decade ago. He realizes Frank was serving two masters but he doesn¿t know who the second master was. Freddie and Fabio have disappeared and are perhaps dead, two womenl have taken an unusual interest in him and spooks are spying on him. Conrad believe if he can¿t walk away by convincing whoever is really in charge he is no threat, he will go down in a blaze of glory. --- Conrad was a damaged young man when he was recruited he has healed and he finally knows it. Readers will feel sorry for him even though he never asked questions about who he was killing and why or that he believed he worked for a crime boss. The question of who Conrad¿s handlers really are will keep readers turning the pages of this mesmerizing crime thriller. The antagonist comes across like a little boy waking up from a terrible nightmare. --- Harriet Klausner

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