Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Review of "The Hitman's Guide to House Cleaning" [86]

The Hitman's Guide to House Cleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason
Amazon Crossings, ISBN 978-1611091397
January 24, 2012, 256 pages

You might figure that a guy whose nickname is Toxic might not be the nicest guy and, in fact, Tomislav Bokšić starts off as not the most likable of guys. After all, he is a professional hitman for the Croatian mob in NYC, with some 60 'jobs' on his resume. And that does not take into consideration the additional 60+ people he killed during the Bosnian war. But even though he is at times a bit haunted by his past, he is very good at his job and rather content in it.
Until he kills the wrong man.

the waterfront in Split
Well, it was not his fault. He killed the man he was suppose to but it seems the man was in fact working for the FBI and now Tomislav must go on the run. He intends to return home to Split (hey, I have actually been there) but through a comedy of errors ends up on a plane to Iceland, posing as an American televangelist, Father Friendly. Iceland is unlike anywhere he has ever been, with it's season of endless days..and then months of endless nights, names he can not even begin to pronounce and no one gun in the entire country that he can get his hands on and sometimes not even one murder in the whole country in a year. What kind of place is this? One that is going to cause this professional killer to come to terms with his past and try and create a new future in his new home. But as funny as this book is, as any good professional killer knows, maybe it is not possible to escape your past.
Can a hitman find forgiveness..can a hitman find love?

I was a little concerned when I started this book, because the main character, the one we are suppose to identify with, is a man who kills people for a living and seems to have little problem with it. If you can't like the main character...well, that can be a problem.

But don't worry, because the whole professional killer thing aside, Tommy, as he comes to be called, is a great character. First of all, this is a very funny book, at times laugh out loud funny. I will not let on what happens to him, but let's just says he gets involves with quite a cast of characters and some situations that he never would have foreseen when he was in NYC. And Iceland, the author's home is a fascinating, and slightly bizarre, place especially as seem through the author's eyes. Maybe this is not quite the view the Tourist Board would have us see, but it is funny and interesting and you have to love a nice volcanic landscape.
Yet it is not all fun and games and Tommy has to deal with some serious issues from both the past and present if he has any hope of any future, let alone a good future. And before long, we, the reader, will be pulling for him.

A very good entertaining book, quite funny yet with a serious undercurrent, a smart book that caught me by surprise and that I thoroughly enjoyed.


  1. I would have expected some humor in the book just by the title. That really grabbed my attention.
    I'll have to put this one on the list. Sounds good and I like the location.

  2. Oh gosh, now you're going to have me reading yet another book....

  3. I suspected this might be funny when I saw the title. Sounds good!

  4. Sounds like a good one. Thanks for an engaging review.

  5. This sounds very entertaining and I had not yet run across the title. Thanks!

  6. Sounds fun, sort of like the Tim Dorsey books. Have you read them? Freaking hilarious, and that includes bad guys that you have to love as well. The cherry on top is that they all take place in Florida. The location of Iceland is a nice twist here too, because it is just a bizarre setting.

  7. Sounds like a good fish out of water story too!

    1. Thanks for this review. I couldn't agree with you more that it's very hard to write this kind of a book well so I'm glad this one worked for you. And I can see why you think Toxic is such an interesting character. This is one I wouldn't ordinarily think of trying but perhaps I will.


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