Who Is Conrad Hirst?
British author Wignall (For the Dogs ) successfully channels Robert Ludlum in this lean, muscular thriller with more than a few parallels to Ludlum's Jason Bourne series. Conrad Hirst, a remorseless European hit man burnt out by a life of violence, plans to walk away from the business by eliminating the only four people who know his identity. Of course, it isn't that simple. Hirst's first target, Frank Dillon, admits as he's dying that he has lied to Hirst consistently about Hirst's true employer. Later, Hirst learns that the man he thought was his employer, German crime boss Julius Eberhardt, was only using Eberhardt's identity and may in fact be connected with the CIA. Hirst's ignorance of most tradecraft is a little less than plausible, as is his naïveté in trusting the attractive women he meets just as his plan hits high gear. Still, Wignall's ability to blend meaningful characterizations with suspenseful action shows a talent that many other genre writers would envy. A film, to be directed by Liam Kan and Grant Hodgson, is in the works. (Nov.)