Something You Are ★★★★
Head of Zeus, 2012
Evil. Is it something you do? Or something you are…
The first time I killed someone I wasn’t paid for it. Like many other kids I drifted into my career by accident, because it was the first industry to offer me money, because, with my record, nowhere else would have offered me any. ~Something You Are, Hanna Jameson
Meet Nic Caruana. Actually, you better hope you never meet Nic Caruana because if you do it likely means you are in for a world a hurt: perhaps some disfigurement…creative mutilation…and only if you’re really lucky, a quick death.
Nic is your average English bloke just trying to make a living on the mean streets of London’s underbelly. He’s not a psychopath, but he is a murderer for hire. He’s done some very bad things that he doesn’t really feel all that bad about. He can be brutal, detached, ruthless. But he remains human and interesting and sympathetic. He is estranged from his normal, suburban parents, his junkie sister, and a war hero brother flying helicopters in Afghanistan.
Nic was a good kid until something very bad happened to him. Now he isn’t good any more.
To all my crime loving friends out there, this is a fresh new voice in the genre to make your toes curl. It’s noir that’s black as night, with pages that bleed violence so in your face you can hear the bones cracking. The dialogue is sharp as razor blades, not only moving the plot forward at an adrenalized rush, but constructing flesh and blood characters right out of the ether one word at a time.
And are you ready for this? In a genre that’s predominantly male territory, Something You Are was written by a slip of a girl who drafted Nic’s story when she was just 17 years old. Now she’s an old maid at 23, but she’s got at least two more London Underground books drafted and I can only hope we see them sooner rather than later.
I will warn off more sensitive readers: this book features a lot of graphic violence and is set firmly in London’s unforgiving, unsentimental crime scene of amoral people breaking all kinds of laws along with a shitload of bones. But goddammit, it’s pretty damn fine storytelling. A punch to the kidneys, an uppercut to the chin, and I think I’ll have an Irish whiskey and a fag now, thanks very much.