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Nightkill [Mass Market Paperback]

F. Paul Wilson , Steven Spruill
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Library Journal

This is a dazzling collaboration by Wilson (Deep as the Marrow, LJ 12/96) and Lyon, author of several other medical thrillers. Jake Nacht is a mob assassin who as a youth is shuttled between foster homes and ends up with a sharpshooter named Sarge, who trains Jake to be a crack shot, then betrays him. Jake kills Sarge and takes over the family business as a mob sniper. He is later shot and paralyzed on a fumbled job and wants to die, until risky surgery by the daring Dr. Graham restores his damaged spine. Love for his rehab nurse, Angel, brings Jake fully back to life and changes him; after months of wanting to kill his nemesis, he centers the cross hairs on Fredo but has trouble pulling the trigger. There are many satisfying characters, and, despite some jarring changes of viewpoint, the pace is as rapid as an accelerated heartbeat. Recommended for thriller collections.?Molly Gorman, San Marino, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Semimedical thriller by Wilson, a practicing physician (Deep as the Marrow, p. 95, etc.) and sometime horror novelist (The Select, 1994, etc.), who joins Lyon, also a novelist of medical thrillers, to produce a mob/medical story without a hint of the occult. Jake Nacht, a hit man with 17 kills, works for the mob on a freelance basis. As he sees it, he's helping haul out the trash by killing mobsters. An orphan, Jake is the adopted son of Sarge, an ex-Marine sniper with some 250 wartime kills. Sarge, who may or may not be psychotic, served for some time as a mob assassin, and has done well by his efforts. He trains Jake to perfection, then dies in a confrontation gone wrong: He forces Jake to kill him in a variation of ``the most dangerous game'' of human hunting human. Later, the remorseless Jake quickly becomes one of the mob's most reliable freelancers--until, that is, he's caught in a double- cross. Mr. C., a mob godfather, has his henchman Fredo hire Jake to kill US Senator Weingarten during a speech at an outdoor rally. Despite misgivings, Jake sets about the job, but just as he's about to take the senator out he learns that he's been set up. Shot by a detective who's been tipped off to his presence, Jake is paralyzed, his spine severed. But there's no evidence against him, and he's likely to collect a cool $5 million from the city. It doesn't matter: A depressed Jake starts on rehab convinced that he would rather die. Then nurse Angela and her uncle Dr. Graham sneak him into a new, highly experimental program aimed at rebuilding spinal cords. Jake recovers, secretly, and sets out to avenge himself on Mr. C and Fredo. Fast-moving, yes. Inventive, no. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Refreshingly offbeat, fast-paced medical thriller...The slam-bang action is addictive."--Publishers Weekly

"A dazzling collaboration by Wilson and Spruill....The pace is as rapid as an accelerated heartbeat."--Library Journal

About the Author

F. Paul Wilson, a New York Times bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between, is a practicing physician who resides in Wall, New Jersey.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
 
FREDO
 
August
 
Jake heard from Fredo Papillardi the usual way: a typically verbose note to Jake's Atlantic City post office box: "Call Fredo."
So Jake called. But instead of Jake telling Fredo the where and when of the meet, as was customary, Fredo insisted on next Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in a place with a TV. Jake didn't like that One of the rules--Sarge's rules--was always set the conditions of a meet. But Fredo was insistent this time, said it had to be this way--"Totally necessary"--so Jake gave in. Fredo pushed for a hotel room but Jake wasn't giving in that much. He told Fredo the address of a place on Fairmount in AC. Leonardo's Bar & Grille.
* * *
Jake got two drafts from Ernie at the bar and settled himself at an isolated table in a dark corner. Next best thing to being invisible.
Leonardo's was a particularly dingy dive, which was one of the reasons Jake liked it. Always night inside; so dark the afternoon regulars winced and cringed like vampires every time the front door swung open. One of a hundred just like it spread across the Atlantic City you didn't see on postcards.
AC wasn't Jake's favorite city, but it was the closest to his place on the Bass River. He thought of AC as two cities, really. First was the new Atlantic City, the one you did see on postcards, crowded up against the ocean with its high, shiny casinos and boardwalk-treading tourists. Then the old AC that the gamblers' buses had to pass through to get to the casinos, with its dirty, crumbling sidewalks, empty storefronts, shuffling residents, and old, leaning buildings that rarely rose above two stories. Beirut on the Jersey Shore.
Leonardo's was in the second AC, in a working-class neighborhood four blocks west of TropWorld, in another time zone, another climate, another country. Jake liked it not only because it was dark, but because it was never crowded, and because Ernie, the owner-barkeep, had selective Alzheimer's--knew every stat about every guy who'd ever worn a Phillies or Eagles uniform, but never knew nothing nohow about nobody who was ever in his joint. Try to talk to Ernie about his clientele and you'd swear the place was empty day and night.
Jake watched Fredo breeze in from the bright afternoon and stand, lost and disoriented, in the gloom. Watched him stumble to the bar, an island of dimness in the dark.
"I'm lookin' for a guy."
Ernie gave him a hard look. "This ain't that kinda bar, sweetie."
"Very funny. Name's Jake."
"Jake who? I don't know no Jake."
Good old Ernie.
"Over here," Jake said, flicking his Bic and raising the flame like a metalhead during a ballad. He kept it burning until Fredo had groped his way to the table.
"Jesus, Jake, it's like a fuckin' cave in here."
"Your eyes'll adjust."
"Look, I thought we agreed to meet where there's a TV."
"There's one over the bar."
"Yeah, but it's got the fuckin' game on."
"That can be fixed. What are we supposed to see at four?"
"The whackee, if you know what I'm saying."
Jake thought about that. Four o'clock was too early for news. So who was the target? A talk-show host? He stared at Fredo. He knew he had dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin, liked shiny shoes, thousand-dollar sport coats, and heavy gold, but all he could make out here in the dark was slicked-back hair, a bulky build, and a sport shirt. Light glinted faintly from the thick gold chain around his throat. Fredo was a made man and proud of it. Jake wouldn't have been surprised if his license plate read MOB-1.
Jake, on the other hand, was careful to make sure he'd never be mistaken for one of the Boys. Straight blond hair streaked with barely noticeable gray, long, straight nose, blue eyes, sharp chin, lean, wiry build, jeans, sneakers, work shirt. And no gold. No chains, nothing that reflected light.
He pushed the extra eight-ounce draft toward Fredo.
"This one's yours. We've got a couple of minutes to kill."
"Don't they have any wine?"
"What do you like?"
"A Cabernet or something'd be good."
"Ernest, my good man!" Jake shouted, flicking his Bic again and waving it in the air. "A bottle of your best Cabernet Sauvignon, if you please."
Ernie barked a laugh and raised his middle finger in front of the TV screen.
Jake put out his lighter and pushed the draft closer to Fredo. "Maybe you'd better stick with beer."
Fredo took a pull on the draft and jerked his head toward the bar. "That guy don't exactly strike me as the sort who'll jump at the chance to change the channel at four."
"Ernie's all right," Jake said, draining his beer. It could have been colder and the glass could have been cleaner, but it was beer. He glanced at the ancient Rheingold clock behind the bar and watched the minute hand swing onto the twelve. Four o'clock. "What channel we want?"
"Eight."
"Stay put."
Jake got up and went to the bar. He waggled his empty glass at Ernie.
"Another one of these, and put on Channel eight."
Ernie nodded, refilled the glass, then pointed the remote at the screen. Cries of outrage arose from the bar and the surrounding room as the game disappeared.
"Fuck y'sall," Ernie said.
The Rheingold clock must have been slow because the show on 8 was already off and running.
"Oprah?" Jake said as he returned to the table. "You didn't tell me you wanted Oprah. We could have a riot in here."
"As long as he don't change the channel before you see the guy."
"He won't. Unless someone tops the twenty I gave him when I came in."
The guy, the guest, was a sight. A vaguely familiar apple-shaped head on a Humpty-Dumpty body. And artificial turf--a curly rug on his winesap head. Not a bad rug--you had to take two, maybe three looks to tell for sure those curls were not homegrown--but not a great one. Not Sinatra quality.
"I give up," Jake said. "Who is it?"
"That, my friend, is Whiny. Known to the rest of the country as United States senator Stanley Weingarten."
Jake refrained from telling Fredo that they weren't friends. He was thinking. A senator. They wanted him to hit a senator.
Then the guy started talking. What a voice. Like fingernails on the mother of all blackboards. When Fredo had called him Whiny, Jake had assumed it was because of his name. Listening to him now, he knew there was another reason.
And didn't he ever stop for air? Oprah had asked him one question and he was off to the races.
"…and I know that we've got to find better, more efficient ways to fight crime, but good Lord, we don't want to turn the country into a police state."
Oprah jumped in when Whiny finally took a breath. "I understand you're against the new wiretapping bill. Don't we need to know what drug dealers and organized crime are talking about and planning?"
Weingarten's voice jumped an octave. "Of course we do! But to allow the FBI such broad powers is to practically make them a law unto themselves. Fight crime, yes, but not at the cost of free speech and privacy." He sighed dramatically. "But you know, I'm beginning to wonder if fighting the good fight is worth it."
Oprah looked startled. "I can't believe I just heard you say that. This has been Stanley Weingarten's fight for the last fourteen years!"
"I find it a little hard to believe myself," Whiny said. "But maybe that's what the country wants. Sometimes I think maybe I'm a dinosaur. Maybe I should get out of the way and let the Justice Department do anything it damn well pleases. And then later on I can shake my head sadly and say I told you so."
"Don't count on that, asshole," Fredo muttered, then turned to Jake. "Seen enough?"
Jake nodded and shouted to the bar. "Thanks, Ernie. That's all we can stand. Put the game back on."
Cheers from around the room.
"So what's the beef?" Jake said.
"Mr. C says Whiny's gotta retire from politics, if you know what I'm saying."
Mr. C was Bruno Caposa, head of the Lucanza family for the last twenty years, and Fredo's uncle. Which explained why Fredo, whose mean streak tended to over-power his intelligence, had made it to capo in Mr. C's organization.
"I gathered that. Why?"
"How come you want to know? You never wanted to know before."
True. Jake had done a number of jobs for Mr. C over the years, jobs the Big Guy had wanted done clean, with no connection to his organization. After what had happened to Gotti, Mr. C was putting even more distance between himself and the wet work. Fredo had arranged most of the jobs and Jake had never asked why. Because he'd never cared why. Usually one bad guy hired him to hit another bad guy, and the cops and DAs made outraged noises in public but behind closed doors they high-fived each other and crossed another jerk off the list.
This was different.
Jake said, "This time I do want to know why. We're not talking about some two-bit wise guy here, or even another boss. We're talking about a U.S. senator, some-body lots of people voted into office, somebody who'll turn on a world of heat when he goes down. Not just local and state heat, but federal heat--global warming, Fredo--so I want to know the story from day one."
"All right," Fredo said. "I'll nutshell it for you. Coupla years after Whiny gets elected for his first term, a bunch of hard-nosed Southerners start pushing for this crime bill. It happens regularly, but this one was real scary. It had all sorts of provisions that were going to cramp our style something fierce. I tell you, we was all sweating bullets, if you know what I'm saying. I mean, we'd already took a bad hit with this legalized gambling shit."
Jake couldn't help but smile. "Save that for the gambling commission. Don't try to run it on me."
"Okay, sure. We've got our hands in the casinos, but it ain't like the good old days. And I mean, sure, we've still got sports betting and all, but how long before they legalize that? We still got some numbers, but state lotteries have taken a big chunk out of that. I mean, we can't offer a multimillion-dollar hit. So what are we left with? Drugs and girls. And I tell you, Jake, since th...
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