I liked two things about the novel Billy Summers: 1) I love the complexity of characters who do very bad things but are inherently good and likable; and 2) I’m never endingly impressed with the story telling abilities of author Stephen King.
Billy Summers is a hit man. A skilled sniper trained in the military, he kills for a living, and has ended the lives of many people. He has one rule, however. Strange as it might seem, Billy only kills people who have done very bad things.
Even with this rule, Billy is ready to hang up his assassin rifle and move onto a simpler life. He is coerced, however, into one more assignment — to kill an especially bad man while he is being transported from jail to the courtroom where he will be tried. Reluctantly, Bill agrees to this assignment because of the evilness of the man involved, not to mention the million dollars he would be able to carry off to his retirement somewhere where no one would find him.
He sets the stage by portraying a man working under deadline on a novel in an office with a clear shot to the courthouse exchange. Since he has time to kill (no one is certain as to when the trial will take place), Billy decides to actually try his hand on writing.
The result of all of this is a compelling story about a multifaceted man who tells the reader much of his story via the book he is writing. To make matters even more interesting, following the successful hit, Billy meets a young woman named Alice who was brutally raped by three men and dumped in front of the apartment where Billy is hiding out until the dust clears.
The relationship between Billy and this young woman is tender, despite the gritty nature of their life together. It is not romantic, but more of a uncle/niece type of relationship. Alice saves Billy and Billy saves Alice.
I love Stephen King’s writing, though I have no interest in his horror stories. His characters are realistic, and the stories are always unique. The book was slow reading in spots, and quite long, but overall, getting to know Billy Summers was worth some slogging.
I recommend the book.