Written by Ronald De Feo
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.
Category: Fiction - Thrillers - General
“Whether pretending to be a British aristocrat in New York or unsentimentally confronting his dismal childhood, De Feo’s hit man is extremely liable, and the novel emerges as a study of the delights and dangers of reinvention.” —New Yorker
“Prepare to be unsettled, but take our word: De Feo’s concise voice and compelling characterization make this one worth it.” —Daily Candy
“It’s an engrossing story, persuasively depicting an angry, obsessive man as he comes to a greater awareness of the world around him…De Feo’s master strokes are in creating a remorseless psychopath you'd enjoy spending time with.” —Publishers Weekly
“De Feo is definitely a newcomer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews
“It’s J.J. Connolly’s Layer Cake (with its anonymous hit man, dreams of retirement dancing in his head) with an icing of Fodor's Barcelona. This quirky, promising debut novel argues that assassins are people, too, and sometimes, like it or not, that means they're aspiring art wonks.” —LibraryJournal.com
“Calling Mr. King is an entertaining tale built on what happens when a high-end hit man begins to feel the awakening of an intellectual life. Ronald De Feo invites the reader to play for a while in a seldom-explored part of the borderland between sanity and insanity.” —Thomas Perry, author of The Butcher’s Boy
“Ronald De Feo’s Calling Mr. King is the smartest novel I’ve read in years with a hit man in the leading role. His hit man, a very original, quirky hit man, takes us on an amazing side trip of the world’s capitals, the world’s art and architecture, which makes this knowledgeable hit man irresistible.” —Barbara Probst Solomon, US cultural correspondent of El País
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.
They didn’t tell me much. They never do. But they did say that the mark would be on a business trip. Well, what kind of business was all of this? As the time went by, I became absolutely convinced that he knew his days were numbered. And since he knew, he wanted to get a lot of living done before the end. What I was watching then, all of this peculiar energy, was very simply a pathetic attempt at a last fling.
In my line of work you can’t feel sorry for anyone, and I didn’t feel sorry for him. In fact, I began to resent him. He was aware of me—not me specifically, of course, but the idea of me in general, a stranger out there who was going to take his life. And he decided to toy with his killer, go out with a certain dignity and courage, throw his zest for life in my face, so to speak. What a fool. There was nothing to prove here, nothing to win at this point. He had lost the moment they had taken out a contract.
Maybe he was just plain stupid. I’d dealt with stupid marks before …But this man in Paris was something else again. He had a certain bearing. Thin, trim, with a healthy head of perfectly cut gray hair. You couldn’t miss it. It gleamed in the sun like polished silver. You could see he had taste and style—finely tailored, a different outfit each day. A real Continental. A killer with the ladies. Probably a killer, period. There was a certain intelligence, an alertness about him. Yes, this man knew exactly what he was doing. And although he seemed a bit past his prime now and rather harmless, I bet he’d been one clever, nasty bastard in his heyday. After all, they don’t want you dead for nothing.