4 out of 4 stars
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The criminal underworld of Sydney, Australia, has been taking care of their own problems for decades. When a renowned hit-man gets his latest assignment, to take out a sixty-year-old man, he figured that it would be a piece of cake. Not only was the attempt on David's life the last thing this hit-man ever did, but it also started a chain of events which makes Programmed to Kill by David Murray the best revenge story I have read since Dumas' unbeatable classic.
After the attempt on his life, David calls together three friends with whom he trained for service in Vietnam. Unbeknownst to almost anyone else, these men were a select few conscripts who trained as special forces prior to service in the conflict: a highly illegal thing for Australia to do and therefore kept secret by all. These men, who have been trained to do unspeakable acts, are soon to become their adversaries' worst nightmare. Still not realizing what he is up against and in order to get back at David for taking out his friend, Welles turns his attention to David's wife and daughter. I'm sure you can guess that this action is not well received by David and his buddies and I'll encourage you to pick up this book to see where it takes you.
This book is an action-packed tale of cat and mouse that blends the reader's concept of right versus wrong. There is a distinct three-way struggle between David and his friends, Welles and his seedy gang, and the local police forces that are thrown into the mix of it all. I loved how the author is able to have all of these characters play their distinct roles in the book and keep the reader debating where they stand morally. Without going into much more detail, the reader is challenged to decide for themselves whether or not David's actions are justified based on the circumstances, how the police should handle the situation, and whether or not there are actions that go beyond the traditional justice system. The book keeps the reader interested and guessing throughout the story. You are never sure just how far Murray will take his reader in this tale of revenge. No character, good or bad, is safe in this book. What I liked best about this book is that it doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of the criminal world. He doesn't hold back from putting the good characters in his story through unspeakable acts and having equally horrifying situations befall his bad characters. It gives a level of realism most authors don't dare attempt.
There were a couple of minor spelling / grammatical / wording issues in the book that I had noticed. For example, the author uses the word "recognizance" instead of "reconnaissance", "all be it" instead of "albeit", and "rekey" instead of "recce". These issues, however, were few and far between and by no means detracted from the story-line. What I disliked the most was how sometimes the language seemed forced. At times, when characters were talking, it seemed like the author was trying to force a more sophisticated language on his characters than would be natural. Conversely, once the dialogue halted, he seemed to resort to a more colloquial verbiage. That being said, this really is nitpicking for what is an excellent and exhilarating story.
For the emotional roller coaster that this book gives its reader, I will present Programmed to Kill by David Murray with a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It is the type of story that you can read through in one fell swoop, never guessing the details of its ending, and gasping at where the author takes you chapter after chapter. If you are a fan of an epic revenge tale or are particularly interested in crime books, this one needs to be your next read. Unfortunately, I do have to throw one disclaimer in here. As has been alluded to in the review above, this book is quite graphic at times. Not only are there some pretty violent scenes, but there is also a particular scene near the beginning of the book which is both visually descriptive, degrading, and hard to read. If you are not a fan of violence in your books and can't handle difficult situations, you should probably pass this one up.
Programmed To Kill
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