I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Plotters by Un-su Kim
Published by HarperCollins on 21st February 2019 (UK)
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind--a plotter--working in the shadows. Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city's most dangerous criminals, but their existence is little more than legend. Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want?
Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters "The Library", Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. As a result he finds his every move is being watched. Is he finally about to fall victim to his own game? Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.
A Wee Summary
The Plotters is my first foray into what has been dubbed by many as ‘Korean Noir’. With a synopsis that immediately piqued my interest, this novel is unlike any thriller I’ve ever read.
Following the end of military rule in South Korea, there’s been an emergence of an industry for hitmen. The Doghouse Library is home to a guild of such assassins-for-hire, headed by the seasoned and cantankerous Old Raccoon.
Our protagonist, Reseng, is one such assassin. Having been raised in ‘The Library’ by Old Raccoon, Reseng is one of the best assassins in Seoul.
Throughout the country there are people known as Plotters holed up, contracted by the powerful to devise and plan assassinations.
It’s Reseng’s job to unquestioningly complete assassinations as planned by an anonymous Plotter, down to the last detail. Reseng doesn’t know for whom he wields his knife, but he follows orders in return for payment.
When Renseng finds himself veering from the stringent plans of the Plotter, he finds his every move is being watched. Is he now the focus of a Plotter? Could his life be at risk? After all, to eliminate an assassin you need to set another hitman on his tail.
It took me a wee while to get into this book. While I was intrigued from the opening page, it took me some time to piece things together and feel involved.
Reseng is a character that, despite his occupation, I quickly came to like – I’m sure his love of book, reading and cats helped to accelerate the process!
He’s the kind of flawed but likeable character that I enjoy in a thriller. I appreciated the humour that this character brings at times, which is needed to balance the dark, occasionally graphic, nature of this tale.
When it comes to translated fiction, the translator is so important to its success. I was really pleased to find that I found Sora Kim-Russell’s translation flowing, often lyrical, and easy to read. Kim-Russell has managed to weave in the Korean language which helps to root this novel in its Korean setting.
I found the whole concept of the novel fascinating and, for the most part, I enjoyed this novel. It’s a bit quirky and different from other novels I’ve read. The writing and translation played out like a film in my mind.
As I’ve said, it’s dark – well, it’s about assassins and plotters so what would you expect? It’s also humorous in places though, so it made me chuckle at times. I wasn’t 100% sold on the pacing of the novel, but it’s full of action, and. as the story progressed, I found myself unable to put the book down.
This is my first ‘Korean Noir’ novel, but it won’t be my last.