An astonishing landmark novel in four books, The Kills is both a political thriller and a bravura literary performance. Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
Richard House is the author of two short, dark novels, published by Ira Silverberg a number of years ago in the Serpent's Tail High Risk series (Bruiser and Uninvited). He is a member of the Chicago-based collaborative, Haha (whose work has appeared at The New Museum, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Venice Biennale). He now teaches at the University of Birmingham. He is the editor of Fatboy Review, a remarkable digital magazine: www.fatboyreview.net.
'Richard House has written a damn good book ...The Kills is possibly the most eyebrow-raising entry on this year's Booker longlist ... he is not your average novelist, but is also a film-maker, artist and magazine editor ... If this all seems hifalutin, rest assured: The Kills is still all about spinning a good yarn' Sunday Times, Culture 'For all its bulk The Kills proves easily digestible ... it is well worth ejecting five or six conventional thrillers from your holiday luggage and devoting yourself to The Kills for a few days. Like all the best thrillers, it takes you on a hell of a ride' Daily Telegraph 'Prepare to be dazzled by this monumental novel ... a true achievement. House's sea of words relentlessly interrogates his themes through action and dialogue, leaving his reader washed up on a faraway shore, dazed yet exhilarated' Sunday Times 'Richard House's Man Booker-longlisted novel stands out from the pile ... an ambitious and complex meta-thriller that spins its many stories like plates, tantalising you at every turn ... a page turner ... and a book absolutely to be read twice over.' Independent 'If you have a week-long, do-nothing holiday planned, or you have to spend some time convalescing in hospital, or you are going to prison, then Richard House's monumental, Man Booker-longlisted thriller may be the ideal accompaniment. The Kills is a dense and twisty series of linked stories that range across Europe, America and the Middle East ... engrossing but also ferociously complex and demanding ... [House] has a lovely turn of phrase ... he writes in startling detail about character, location and physical mannerisms ... a very sophisticated yarn-spinner' Evening Standard 'A hot favourite on the Booker longlist ... This is a staggering achievement ... Highly recommended' Daily Mail 'Richard House has written a gripping, hallucinogenic - and enormous - novel that deals with the aftermath of the Iraq conflict ... The [enhanced] digital edition is far and away the better way to read this novel; the first two books in particular are augmented by a series of short films embedded on the page, often with text overlaid, as well as animations and audio clips. For example, listening to the phone messages left by one character's mother as she tries to cajole him into contacting her, before she understands that he is in danger, adds an emotional jolt to the text. Throughout, the simple yet elegant enhancements work to take us beyond the page, adding depth and texture to the story. This is the first time I've read a digital edition of a primarily text-based novel where I've thought: yes, this works ... House's writing is spare and compelling, and the digital edition is truly enriched by the additional media' Guardian 'They [the Man Booker 2013 judges] outdo themselves in choosing an astounding sequence by Richard House in The Kills, four consecutive novels amounting to 300,000 words or more. This is a thrilling, overwhelming ride, starting from a brilliant North by North-West-ish donnee: an official working in the Gulf under a false name on a questionable project is asked to disappear quietly for a couple of hundred thousand and quickly finds himself the fall-guy for a missing $53 million. Astonishing for its scale and drive, it is released in a number of digital formats as well as an immense hardback. It is full of lucid action, drifting contemplation, apparent dead-ends, confusion and thuggish explosions. I could not wait to get back to it when reading it, and House is probably this year's major reinventor of the possibilities of the genre: the leap into the present tense at the three-quarter stage shows a novelist in full command of his technical possibilities ... one you ought to read' Philip Hensher, Spectator 'majestic ... brilliantly realised characters' Telegraph top 10 summer reads 2013 'Thrilling ... explores the multimedia possibilities of the modern book' Metro A gigantic experiment, bracing, thrilling and worthy of a medal for narrative heroism, Richard House's four-volume The Kills plays an epic set of variations on the shadow war for loot and influence behind the chaos of Iraq. -- Boyd Tonkin, Books of the Year Independent The novel I enjoyed most was Richard House's sensational pile-driver, The Kills. -- Philip Hensher, Books of the Year Guardian Richard House's The Kills was the novel that impressed me most: a terrific unbuckled ride through global and intimate catastrophes, blood and billions. -- Philip Hensher, Books of the Year Spectator The Kills is consistently great fun, whether it motors along as political thriller or existential murder story, or folds in on itself as (post-)postmodern work of ludic fiction. In all the ways that actually matter, House is a fine writer: a deceptively simple stylist and a plotter of considerable talent' Literary Review With a single observation he can give lasting resonance to a few seconds of human awkwardness. House gives us vivid pictures: powerful, bleak, beautiful. Times Literary Supplement The jar of scorpions Richard House introduces on the first page of his cracking novel The Kills is highly appropriate because there's a sting in the tail on every page. I want to call it a thriller but the story - set in post-war Iraq, and Italy ... is more than that. Let's call it biz-crime-heist-noir. The Kills is four interconnected books in one and if you read it on an iPad you get lots of bonus digital goodies. It's a killer of a read. Daily Mail House's writing is spare and compelling, and the digital edition is truly enriched by the additional media. Guardian House is a master of flawed character and unexpected moving images. New Statesman House is a master of storytelling and characterisation. This epic novel, a globe-spanning tale of corruption, is gripping, exquisitely written and thought-provoking Metro