‘Billy Summers’ – Stephen King

There usually comes a moment in Stephen King books where I have to grit my teeth to continue, or am left scratching my head because of the paranormal elements. There was certainly one of those moments here – thankfully, not described graphically – but the majority of the book had me keen to read and learn more about this character.

Billy Summer does not think of himself as a bad man. He kills people for a living, but the people he kills are bad people. As a veteran, he has seen his fair share of trouble and we meet Billy at the time he’s thinking of getting out. He wants to call it a day and takes one last job.

He’s asked to set himself up in a remote town, settling into the neighbourhood as he waits for the green light to hit his last target. However, from the outset Billy has a bad feeling about this job and his nervousness lends a delicious air of tension to events.

The book follows Billy as he settles into his deception, prepares his own getaway plan and – later – as he flees for his life. We see him try to atone for some of his actions, befriending a young woman called Alice whom he saves (but who plays a crucial role in helping him).

There’s some deeply unpleasant elements to the story, but there’s also a warmth to Billy that is remarkably endearing. I liked the fact we’re not wholly sure of how certain elements are resolved, and this is definitely a book I’d recommend.