I'm an avid reader of crime fiction and I am not at all squeamish when it comes to tales of ruthless serial killers and their vicious murders. Nevertheless, I thought I was going to have to stop reading Progeny Of A Killer by J.M. Shorney after just a few pages. It's not that it is badly written - in fact, it was slightly too well written so I could visualise in painfully graphic detail the horrific molestation and murder of a little girl. I understand the need for the scene - by showing the utter depravity and wickedness of the perpetrator, we don't feel at all bad when he is murdered a few pages on, and we accept that his killer is probably a good guy - but nevertheless, it made me feel totally sickened.
Fortunately, the rest of the book is less intense. We follow Aidan McRaney, a hitman for the mysterious Mr Treveleyan who takes out the foul lowlives and gangsters who can't be picked up by the police. Aidan's heart isn't in it but he doesn't have much choice, needing the money for his young wife and child and vulnerable to the veiled threats that suggest he'd better not try to get out.
Aidan lives in England but he is Irish and I found it hard to piece together how he was supposed to fit in with the mentions of IRA hitmen and victims in the opening pages. All becomes clear later in the book though. Aidan is sent to infiltrate a gang of Irish terrorists led by a vicious man who is unknowingly (to Aidan) linked to his past. He ends up being a pawn in a lethal game where everyone knows more about him than himself.
The ending seemed a bit Hollywoodesque, with the hero coming out with barely a scratch, despite a sneering reference to exactly this at one point in the book ! It's a fast paced and exhilarating read that had me turning the pages, even though it lacked realism at times and was a bit predictable at the end..
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.