Review: Billy Summers by Stephen King

If you disassembled “Billy Summers” and left its pieces scattered like detritus for another author to reconstruct, the result would likely be a fairly conventional thriller. But that’s the magic of Stephen King, isn’t it? Literary tropes are his playthings, there to be manipulated and contorted into something exceptional.

The titular Billy Summers is a former US marine turned contract killer, who is — wouldn’t you know it — also something of a white knight. We empathise with Billy because of his wartime experiences in Iraq, which we learn of through excerpts of the semi-fictional memoir he writes as part of his cover in the lead-up to his final hit. That’s right: “Billy Summers” is a classic ‘one last job’ story. And of course, that job goes horribly wrong.

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