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Pest Control
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This debut novel, published in Britain in 1994, hinges on a delightfully buggy idea that takes full comic advantage of New York City. Bob Dillon, an unemployed pest control expert, faxes a resume in response to a carefully coded advertisement for a hired killer-"Gone private with lethal new concept!" reads Bob's exuberant pitch. Voila! He's mistaken for a top assassin. When assorted personages start dying and their demises are laid at Bob's door, the CIA gets involved. A price is put on Bob's head, luring every top-rated killer-for-hire in the world to the Big Apple, which is depicted as infinitely more dangerous than merely cold-blooded assassins. In a prime example of the book's major flaw, however, this humorous concept is set up long before it's knocked down and is then discarded far too quickly for a gruesome, bug-infested finale. Fitzhugh can't settle on a consistent attitude to his over-the-top material. Arch quotations from rock songs rub up against Bob's marital problems and the pure Hollywood fantasy of the world's top assassin, who, while tracking Bob, yearns only for a normal, middle-class family life. The uncertain pacing and tone render this comic thriller a bumpy read, but its nifty premise makes it just right for a high-concept film, which is no doubt why movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers' Spring Creek Productions for $1.25 million. (Mar.)

Fired from his job with a pest control company in Queens, New York, Bob Dillon starts his own business using his environmentally friendly technique: hybrid killer insects that eat cockroaches. Meanwhile, Marcel, a broker who contracts for assassins, is looking for a reliable newcomer to complete a million-dollar hit. He advertises and Bob responds, neither understanding the nature of the other's "exterminating" business. Very shortly thereafter, ten of the most dangerous hitpersons in the world descend on Queens, which is pretty dangerous itself and more than up to the challenge. Broadly satiric, extremely funny, and tailor-made for film (rights have already been sold to Warner Brothers), this is not exactly demanding reading, but it is fun and likely to be popular. A reasonable purchase for most public libraries.‘Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Va.

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