Monday 18 January 2021

Kill Someone


This was an interesting one by author Luke Smitherd (Twitter). I picked it up because I thought the blurb sounded interesting:

 Here are the rules.

Method: you can't use a gun. You can't use explosives. You can't use poison. It has to be up close and personal. You don't have to worry about leaving evidence; that will be taken care of.

Victim: no one suicidal. No one over the age of 65. No one with a terminal illness.

Choose your method. Choose your victim.

Chris Summer was a 21-year-old call centre worker. A dropout. A nobody, still living at home with his parents. Then one day the Man in White came to his family's house, offering a seemingly impossible choice: kill a random stranger - one of Chris' choosing - within 12 days in order to save the lives of five kidnapped siblings. Refuse, and they die slowly and painfully.

The clock is ticking, the Man in White is watching and Chris has some very important choices to make.

This is a tale of fear, indecision, confused masculinity and brutal violence - a story of a coddled young man thrust into a world of sharp metal and bone. Ask yourself if you could do it. Then ask yourself who you would choose. 

Wasn't too sure when it first began, as there was really no preamble - right in there with the ultimatum - but, as it progressed, it really pulled me in. Really good writer. Felt very believable. Can't give too much away, but the lead character starts out with all the first thoughts you or I might have: could you take out a fascist extremist? What about a total arsehole of a boss? Obviously, 'myself' came to mind, but that's classed as a suicide, so breaks the rules.

The option he eventually goes for was pretty gruesome and rather clever. 

It isn't for the faint-hearted, there's some vivid stuff in there. I love horror, so I'm fairly desensitised, but it successfully made my stomach turn at one point, so recommended if you're into that.

Just a generally good read, and it did leave you thinking by the end. Who would you kill if you had to?

It's a bit like that philosophy dilemma, the Trolly Problem:

There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.

2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

 Which is the more ethical option? Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do?

 Also reminded me a little bit of Scythe.

I wasn't totally convinced by the reasoning for the whole thing at the end, but it was a good ride getting there. Some nice one-liners along the way:

...the smile crept back onto his face like a spreading puddle of sewage.

My anger disappeared like piss in the rain.

And the author makes a very heartfelt appeal at the end for people to review his work online if they liked it. This is something all authors can get behind - it really does mean a lot. People checking you out for the first time often make a decision based on reviews, so please do take a moment to do that for any author whose work you enjoy.

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