In my personal reading I have found that books from Europe and Central and South America often have a sensibility that is different from American titles. If you have a book discussion group that enjoys this type of literature and have never tried a crime fiction novel, then James Sallis’ The Killer is Dying might be a good book for you to try.
There are three central characters in this novel: Christian, a hit man who has come to Phoenix with a target in mind and a fatal disease that is taking his life; Sayles, the cop who is going to have to find him after the hit; and, Jimmie, a young abandoned boy who shares dreams with Christian.
The shared dreams, the internal dialogs, the irony of Christian’s intended victim being taken out by another, and the irony of Christian’s decision not to flee but rather to investigate gives this novel a fatalistic quality that lands it right in the land of noir.
Reading groups should find discussing the motivations of the characters as the main topic. But the author’s style, the tone of the book and the use of the image of dreams will also enliven all discussion.
Sallis may have some attention coming his way as his book Drive is being released as a major motion picture shortly. Get one step ahead of the crowd and pick this book for a discussion now.