Formats available: ebook
Genre: mystery, thriller
Series: Duke City Trilogy #2
Length: 183 pages
Publisher: Alibi (Random House)
Date Released: December 16, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Max Austin takes readers back to Albuquerque for another action-packed thrill ride in Duke City Hit, as an elite assassin takes aim at—well, everyone.
According to Vic Walters, the secret to happiness is low overhead and few demands. Living rent-free in a modest bachelor pad behind his boss’s house, he has no debts, no entanglements, and no expensive relationships. He works just a few days a month, but his bank accounts keep growing.
Vic is a high-priced hitman with a legendary record of success. That is, until someone starts eliminating his marks before he can get to them . . . until his manager puts him in the middle of a vicious drug-cartel feud . . . and until a young man walks into his life with a big .45 and a startling revelation.
For Vic Walters, it’s time to step out of the shadows. Which means it’s killing time in Duke City.
I picked up Duke City Hit because I enjoyed the first book in Austin’s Duke City Trilogy, Duke City Split (reviewed here). However, even though Duke City Hit is billed as the second in the series, it didn’t really feel like a second book. It reads as a stand-alone, and a bit different (although just as entertaining) as its predecessor.
Both books show the more mundane side of the criminal underworld in Albuquerque, NM, which really is nicknamed Duke City. The criminals in Split were a pair of well-practiced bank robbers who tried to keep under the radar. Their final spectacular failure is the plot of Duke City Split.
In Duke City Hit, we have the story of two family businesses who operate on the shady side of the street, although one doesn’t start out as a family business, mostly because Vic Walters doesn’t know he has a family.
Professional hit men generally don’t have family ties. But Vic is a native of Albuquerque, and he works for Lucky Penny Bail Bonds, even though he isn’t a bail bondsman any longer. For 30 years, Vic has been a contract killer, and the owner of the bail bond company is his business manager, just as her father was before her.
People contact Penny Randall when they want someone to disappear, and Vic makes it happen. He only takes contracts on men, and only on people that he is able to make himself believe that society would be better off without. No women, no children, and especially no one connected with Organized Crime.
He sets out to kill a scumbag named Harry Morino. He plans the job, and gets to Harry’s place to kill him, only to discover that someone has beat him to the punch. So to speak. At first, it just seems like easy money, until someone beats him to his next job, too.
Vic has either a stalker or a copycat. Or, as it turns out, a grown-up son who has come to finally meet his father, and learn the family business. Vic is a little too eager to spill the beans and take a fatherly interest in the young man who he did not know existed, but is definitely his boy.
Then he discovers that old Harry Morino was mobbed up to the eyebrows, and both Harry’s friends and his enemies want a piece of Vic. Or so it appears.
They say the truth will set you free. It might in Vic’s case, if it doesn’t get him killed first, along with his son.
Escape Rating B: While this isn’t as wild and crazy as Duke City Split, it does have some similarities without feeling like a sequel where you HAVE to read the first book.
Vic is a very quiet and successful operator. He’s had a long run as a contract hit man because he’s extremely careful and never flashy in the least. He also has a very good cover story in his association with Lucky Penny Bail Bonds. He says he’s just a paper-pusher, and people decide he’s boring. Of course he isn’t boring, but he is extremely controlled. It’s why he’s good at his job.
When Ryan shows up, Vic’s famous control slips. While he never knew he even had a child, finding Ryan as an adult, or Ryan finding him, strips away his focus. He feels like a father, even though he hasn’t been one until now.
To be fair, Ryan’s mother never told Vic she was pregnant, and Vic appears to have been upfront about his inability to make any long-term commitment. Ryan only discovers that Vic is his father after his mother dies. Once he sees Vic’s picture, the resemblance is way too strong to ignore.
Vic opens up to the young man, and finds that he wants to share his life and even his work. He knows that having Ryan as a partner is bad for the boy, but Ryan takes to the work like the proverbial duck to water. The two men need their connection to each other.
The drama in this story comes from the fallout from their first shared killing, that of not-so-poor Harry. While it was easy to figure out who betrayed whom, the way that the story played out was still fascinating, as was the way that Vic still manages to get the job done, even though it isn’t the job he thought it was.
In Duke City Hit, just as in the first book, the author does a good job of making the reader root for the bad guys, if only to preserve them from the worse guys.
Max Austin and TLC Book Tours are giving away a $25.00 Gift Card from the eBook Retailer of the Winner’s Choice + 1 Copy of DUKE CITY SPLIT by Max Austin
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