Rating: 4 / 5
I read BILLY SUMMERS by Stephen King with a group of King fan friends in August. There aren’t many King novels left that I haven’t read so it’s always fun to have something new to read!
BILLY SUMMERS follows the title character, a man well into the darker realm of moaraly gray. Billy is a man who puts his sniper skills to use for a payday. He’s ready to retire, but is drawn in to one last lucrative mission. He knows this is the plot of many a story line wherein the hero faces his downfall, but Billy is good at making people underestimate him. He is smarter than your average hitman and he goes in eyes wide open.
I went into this book knowing almost nothing about it and was easily able to settle into reading about Billy. King is good at creating characters that grab your attention and even your sympathies in spite of the fact that they do very bad things. Still, he is not without a moral compass and his targets are generally “bad men” by a general definition.
Billy is the type who easily charms those around him, the good and the bad. When he must wait for his last job to happen, he easily settles in to the neighborhood. He’s the neighbor everyone wants to invite over for dinner and the kids want to play with. When he must hit the road and he comes across someone in need, he’s the guy who almost seamlessly switches from killer to hero.
We also are getting Billy’s backstory in a story within a story format. Billy’s cover is as a writer working on his first novel and Billy decides he might actually want to take on the role of author. He uses his time to narrate his own mostly autobiographical story throughout the course of the novel. I also really love how they played with the story within a story concept with that cover design too!
This book is more character driven than plot driven, but I enjoyed the character King brings us a lot! This book is heavy on the violence (trigger warnings also for rape and child abuse), but it is one I would recommend as a good King read for the horror-adverse. There are a few nods to other King landmarks for the longer term constant readers as well!