Jack Dana Returns In Louis Begley's 'Kill And Be Killed' - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1341448

Jack Dana Returns In Louis Begley’s ‘Kill And Be Killed’

icon 2 Photos

author on Mar 29, 2016

With his new book, “Kill and Be Killed,” (Nan Talese/Doubleday, $25.95, 288 pp), Sagaponack’s Louis Begley has put another notch in his Glock.

The book is a sequel to last year’s “Killer Come Hither.” Both books are thrillers. The genre is a significant departure for Mr. Begley, whose serious novels explore the inner lives of the upper crust of New York society. His methods are subtle and psychologically acute. In “Kill and Be Killed” the action is less subtle. It takes place in a world of mayhem and revenge and it doesn’t take long for the bodies to start piling up. These books are “entertainments”—the distinction is made by English novelist Graham Greene—yet they are by no means trivial. Moral questions are raised and there is an undercurrent of grief.

Mr. Begley’s first novel, “Wartime Lies,” was a winner of the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, a National Book Award Finalist and a National Book Critics Circle Finalist.

He is the author of the great comic novel “About Schmidt” and its sequels, “Schmidt Delivered” and “Schmidt Steps Back.” (The movie “About Schmidt” was loosely—very loosely—based on Mr. Begley’s novel of the same name.)

Mr. Begley has also written scholarly books about Kafka, “The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head,” and about the Dreyfus affair, “Why the Dreyfus Affair Still Matters.”

The multi-talented Mr. Begley is a retired attorney, a former partner in the distinguished firm of Debevoise and Plimpton LLP and practiced international law as head of its European division.

In “Killer Come Hither” we were introduced to Jack Dana, a Yale graduate and classics scholar who, after 9/11, decided that he owed it to his country to enlist in the Marines. After three tours in the Middle East his military career was ended by a sniper who shattered his pelvis. While he was recovering from his injuries in Walter Reed Hospital he began writing his first novel. When published it became an immediate best-seller. Though it is better to begin with “Killer, Come Hither,” it isn’t necessary. Mr. Begley includes sufficient back story.

“Kill And Be Killed” opens with Jack on the Venetian island of Torcello. He is recovering from having killed the hired thug who brutally assassinated his uncle Harry, and from having been rejected by the love of his life, Kerry Black, the brilliant attorney who was his uncle’s protégée. Jack hopes to win her back, but events take a turn for the worse when Jack learns that Kerry has died from a drug overdose, contrary to everything he thinks he knew about her. He is devastated and immediately suspects that she has been murdered.

Jack then begins getting threatening notes. Soon he himself is pursued on Torcello by someone with an unlikely weapon, a crossbow. But Jack is no pantywaist. He fought in Iraq and is a master of the martial art Krav Maga, a particularly deadly Israeli form of self-defense. He neatly avoids the shafts from the crossbow, bests his assailant easily in hand-to-hand combat and dumps his body, weighted with an anchor, into the lagoon.

Jack knows the source of the evil that had killed Uncle Harry, had killed Kerry and is threatening to kill him. It is Abner Brown, half legitimate Texas businessman, half “Napoleon of crime.” His politics are “to the right of Genghis Khan.” He is a man who uses his ill-gotten gains to advance right-wing causes, but also to fund terrorists in the Middle East and engage in human trafficking. Jack and Kerry, using information gathered by Uncle Harry, had gone a long way toward undoing all his criminal activity. But so far Brown is still free and has managed to successfully hide the worst of it.

But Kerry’s best friend, the beautiful Heidi Krohn, approaches Jack with the certain knowledge that Kerry had another file, even more damaging than anything they had found thus far. The fact that she had this file, and that she was killed on the day before she was to appear before a grand jury investigating Brown, helps to explain why Brown only now had Kerry murdered, and why Jack was being threatened himself. The likelihood is that Brown believes Jack had a copy of the file.

The danger ratchets up quickly. Jack’s housekeeper is attacked and beaten to within an inch of her life. An attempt is also made on Heidi’s life. Goons in ski masks follow Jack on his morning run in Central Park. But Jack continues to pursue the hired killer whom he believes has been hired to toy with him and instill fear before he actually kills him. He leaves jolly messages on Jack’s phone, “We play now. Kill later.”

“Kill and Be Killed” is a humdinger. The final confrontation between Jack and Abner Brown is unforgettable.

Louis Begley will appear at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor on Saturday, April 9, at 5 p.m.

You May Also Like:

Fact From Fiction: Clavin’s New Book Explores The Life Of Daniel Boone

When you hear the name Daniel Boone, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? ... 11 May 2021 by Annette Hinkle

‘Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution’

The East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection will present a live Zoom discussion with author ... 10 May 2021 by Staff Writer

‘Becoming Dr. Ruth’ At Bay Street Theater

Bay Street Theater kicks off its 30th anniversary summer season on Friday, June 4, at ... by Staff Writer

Parrish Art Museum’s Salon Series Livestream Concerts

Salon Series, the Parrish Art Museum’s concert program featuring multi-award winning, world-class artists, is returning ... by Staff Writer

Sip & Sing With Kyle Barisich

Every Friday night, it’s time to “Sip & Sing” with Bay Street Theater, which is ... by Staff Writer

Southampton Arts Center ‘EARTH — Artists As Activist

Now through July 11, Southampton Arts Center (SAC) is showing “EARTH — Artists as Activists” ... by Staff Writer

Chris Kelly’s Solo Show At Colm Rowan Fine Art Gallery

Local artist Chris Kelly has returned to the East End and will launch his first ... by Staff Writer

‘Her Name Is Chef’ On Hamptons Doc Fest Website

On May 9, Hamptons Doc Fest began offering a new documentary on its website. “Her ... by Staff Writer

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton Share A Story

The final offering in Bay Street Theater’s “Story Time” series — children’s books read aloud ... by Staff Writer

Spring ‘Reawakenings’ at Guild Hall

The winter blues are making way for a sunny spring, and Tony-nominated actor Paul Hecht, ... by Staff Writer
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported
Send this to a friend