Long considered cool, distant, and absolutely reliable, an American-born hit man, working throughout Europe, grows increasingly distracted and begins to develop an unexpected passion for architecture and art while engaged in his deadly profession. Although he welcomes this energizing break from his routine, he comes to realize that it is an unwise trajectory for a man in his business, particularly when he is sent on the most difficult job of his career.
Set in London, Paris, New York, and Barcelona, Calling Mr. King is at once a colorful suspense tale, laced with dark humor, and a psychological self-portrait of a character who is attempting, against the odds, to become someone else.
Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo is an absolutely unique debut novel about Mr. King, a killer-for-hire who suffers an identity crisis while on “leave” from his job. Told in first person, readers do not get a descriptive introduction to Mr. King, but instead De Feo slowly leaks information throughout the novel, making for a quite intriguing mode of storytelling. It is hard for me to fully articulate my feelings on this work, but I can say it was highly entertaining with a great combination of De Feo’s wit with a suspenseful plot. Though the parallels are not all there, Mr. King reminded me a bit of Walter Mitty as he longed for a rebirth into an art or architecture career. De Feo’s writing, defying the typical mold of the suspense genre, really makes Calling Mr. King an enjoyable read for I found myself as captivated by his writing as I was by the unfolding plot. Though unusual for the protagonist to be the bad guy, it just seemed to work with De Feo’s dark humor. I highly recommend Calling Mr. King to suspense fans and I look forward to what Mr. De Feo has to offer next.
Ronald De Feo has written reviews for The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, National Review, and Commonweal. His short fiction has appeared in such literary magazines as The Brooklyn Rail, The Hudson Review, and The Massachusetts Review. He worked at the Museum of Modern Art, was a senior editor of ARTnews Magazine, and served for many years on the editorial advisory board of Review Magazine, devoted to Latin American literature and the arts. This is his first novel.
I received a complimentary ARC of Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo from Other Press. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.