The Good Kill: A Killian Lebon Novel (2019) – Kurt Brindley

BOOK REVIEW:

Title: The Good Kill

Author: Kurt Brindley

Date published: 2019

Published/printed by: Prosoche

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

{I was graciously sent this novel by the author himself in exchange for an honest review}

What is a ‘good kill’? What is so poignant to this story is making sure that you DO NOT (I repeat: DO NOT) make a clear distinction between wrong and right. Ever since I can remember I have always believed in the shades of grey that exist within, as well as outside the realm of good and evil, and in order to understand our hero, or ‘anti-hero’ we must accept that these particular characters exist. In Kurt Brindley’s novel our protagonist and our ‘anti-hero’ is Killian Lebon, a former Navy Seal whose experiences in Iraq have left him both severally injured physically and psychologically traumatized. Medically retired from the Navy Killian must now attempt to exist within society among civilians who are not always privy to his former way of life. It is also worth noting that before Killian was severely wounded an incident involving the deaths of several young girls in Mosul that were being bought and sold as unwilling sex workers comprises a large part of his haunted past, and his very violent present.

The opening scenes place the reader in the position of witness to the execution of several men who have been involved in the sex trafficking industry, and our anti-hero has taken it upon himself to be a vigilante for all the victims of such heinous crimes. Lebon films the perpetrators reading out statements admitting their involvement in the crimes, and executes said ‘perps’ on camera. These videos have gone viral and no one is any the wiser as to the identity of this ‘Robin Hoodesque’ assassin.

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In the meantime a woman called Toni Steele is searching for her twin sister, Whitney, whom she believes has been forced unwillingly into the sex industry. Whitney, who now calls herself Ruby Black, is by no means an ‘unwilling’ victim, but this has not stopped her twin sister from going to extreme lengths to ‘rescue’ Whitney/Ruby. Ruby has been sold by a notorious club owner and all-round gangster Jerome Savage, to the son of a corporate billionaire, and because Toni is so intent on finding her sister she completely immerses herself in this dark and dangerous world that includes drugs, prostitution and a plethora of shady business deals.

On one of Killian’s ‘missions’ to rid the world of another gruesome individual, whom just so happens to be Jerome Savage, he is unwittingly drawn into Toni’s life when he finds her at Savage’s house. He brings her back to his family home where his childhood friend R.J who has a tragic past of her own joins Killian and Toni in their mission to rescue Whitney.

Throughout the novel flashbacks allow the reader to learn about Killian’s tragic past that include the death of his mother, his relationship with the Catholic priest who became a father figure to Killian as his own father became more and more distant and involved in the cyber security industry and Russian politics. We also learn more about the incident in Afghanistan that led to Killian’s state of mind, and how his childhood that included his relationship ‘with tough-cookie’ R.J made an impression on the man he is now.

It is very important to note that not only are the characters influenced by post 9/11 (as not only Americans but the whole world are), but a post-Trump America is a category all on its own. As with all examples of popular culture that deal with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) there are an infinite number of ways in which the human being copes with the aftermath of trauma or change of any kind. Killian Lebon is the perfect example of an individual who has little or no faith in a system that claims to be just, and finding this system lacking, has taken it upon themselves to exact their own form of judgement. Without going into too much detail on the literary devices used, I personally found The Good Kill to be a brilliant case in point of the moral and ethical dilemma that arises when the human instinct to protect oneself is kept in check. Killian is the anti-hero archetype whose manifestation came about through a series of tragedies and his decision to rid the the world of bad people, who would otherwise continue to do terrible things without any negative consequences to themselves, brings the reader back to my initial question… What is a ‘good’ kill? Whilst Killian and the reader attempt to answer this very question, the array of secondary and main characters grapple with the divide between politics, religion and the general state of the world in their very necessary observations.

In conclusion this is a novel that took me completely by surprise in the best way possible. Brindley has an impeccable grasp of the English language, as well as an extraordinary gift for writing a damn fine tale of intrigue, epic action, a little mystery, one hell of a conspiracy, and what I really hope is a fantastic introduction to a character that I adore for so many reasons, whom I hope to meet again and whose place in literature is sorely needed at present.

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