Billy Summers, by Stephen King

Seven stars

Stephen King is one of the most versatile writers I have discovered in my many years of reading. While many know him for his horror and supernatural work, King has some great reads that flirt with other genres, and do so well. This is a branching out yet again, more of a noir thriller where the protagonist reveals himself slowly throughout the piece, tasked with a goal and finding other important events along the way. King does a stellar job pulling the reader in from the opening pages, as they learn a little more about Billy Summers throughout. A winner for those with great patience!

Billy Summers is a hired killer who presents himself as being overly simple. While he is the best in the business, many wonder about his intelligence, which he has been able to mask well over the years. Billy’s only caveat is that anyone he is hired to kill must be a truly bad person. All that being said, Billy is tired of the life and wants out, once and for all.

When he is approached by a Vegas mob boss, he contemplates making this kill his last. A swan song of sorts to allow him to tip his hat and say goodbye to the life. He’s told this is a man whose evil is like to other, making Billy take notice and agree to the kill. Blending into the local community, Billy prepares to do the shooting and hopes nothing gets messy. Of course, ‘the last kill’ could not go off without a hitch and as soon as the bullet kills the man on the courthouse steps, there are witnesses and he is a wanted man.

Now on the lam, Billy tries to stay one step ahead of it all and seems to be doing well. Then, one night, he sees a woman attacked and left for dead, which spurs him on to help her and seek justice. While her is hiding from the authorities, Billy does all he can to help Alice find her way and exact some revenge on the attackers. This creates a connection between them, one that cannot be simply erased with the nod of a head. Billy’s committed and must act accordingly, if for no other reason than he wants to bring justice into the world. A complicated and well-plotted piece by Stephen King, which reminds me why I enjoy the author so much.

Stephen King seems never to run out of ideas, no matter then length of his pieces. This book, much different than anything else I have read by him over the years, touches on so many themes and branches off at times, making me stop to take a moment so I know what I have been reading. King provides the reader with something exciting, intriguing, and altogether entertaining throughout this literary journey, which appears to include many twists and turns.

Billy Summers serves as a useful protagonist, though there is something about him that is not entirely captivating. He has done a lot, seem a great deal in his life, but he prefers to hide in the shadows. As King guides the story along, the reader learns much about Billy, from his time as a war vet to his backstory as a child, all through the guise of his being an author, part of blending into a small community before he commits his final hit. There is much to learn from him throughout this piece, which the reader can devour at their own pace, which remains highly entertained throughout the experience.

The versatility that Stephen King presents in this piece is sure to impress many readers. Those who know him solely as the master of horror will be impressed with how he can recount a tale that does not delve into too much blood and gore, while fans of his mystery work will likely enjoy this game of cat and mouse. King uses a strong narrative to push the story along, complete with typical tangential commentary throughout. A vast array of characters help entertain the reader throughout the experience, as King is a fan of offering much detail up about all those who grace the pages of his book. A plot that is only partially scattered will keep the reader entertained and guessing, as a simple plot line explodes as the story progresses. While not my favourite of his novels, I can see what others might laud about herein. I am eager to get back to some of his grittier work, something King used to pull me in from the start of my exploration of his work.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another great piece your fans will enjoy and discuss for years to come. I hope to see more of your mystery work soon.