Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pg. 69: Kevin Wignall's "Who is Conrad Hirst?"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Kevin Wignall's Who is Conrad Hirst?.

About the book, from the publisher:
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.
Among the praise for the novel:
"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

Like his previous books, this is a meditation on the directness of one man killing another, but Conrad Hirst goes yet further with ruminations on identity, the loss of a loved one and the emotional shattering that comes with having no idea who you're supposed to be and what you're supposed to stand for. Most writers would need double the word count to get so much across, but once again, Wignall packs more punch in as few words possible."
--Sarah Weinman

"A haunting story that flows at a hypnotic pace to a heart-wrenching conclusion, Who is Conrad Hirst? is one of the most compelling books of the year. Wignall is an expert storyteller, an absolute must-read for fans of hardboiled crime fiction."
--Sandra Ruttan, Spinetingler Magazine

"[A] smart and suspenseful read, and one of the season’s best books."
--David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times

"Wignall uses spare prose and a crisp pace to create this masterful psychological tale. The ending will surprise suspense genre fans and leave them rooting for the complex, tenacious Conrad Hirst to succeed in his quest to go straight."
--Ed Lynskey

"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.... Wignall's ability to blend meaningful characterizations with suspenseful action shows a talent that many other genre writers would envy."
--Publishers Weekly

"Wignall (For the Dogs, 2004) writes eloquently about criminals with a conscience, weaving together Conrad's precarious pursuit of "retirement" with his poignant (and, at times, maudlin) letters to a dead lover. Clipped prose drives this lean tale about a man less likely to go out with a whimper than a bang. "He'd experienced enough to know that survival wasn't an end in itself, that it was better to die trying to live than not live at all."
Read an excerpt from Who is Conrad Hirst? and learn more about the novel at the Simon & Schuster website.

Kevin Wignall's other works include For the Dogs, People Die, and Among the Dead, and a number of acclaimed short stories.

See Wignall's website to learn about his books and stories, and check out his posts at the group blog Contemporary Nomad.

My Book, The Movie: People Die.

The Page 69 Test: Who is Conrad Hirst?.

--Marshal Zeringue