cover image THE HIT


Jere Hoar, . . Context, $24.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-893956-34-6

Hoar makes a crackling debut (after the story collection Body Parts) with this Southern noir thriller about a decorated Vietnam vet up to no good in Mississippi. Luke Carr is locked away on the psychiatric ward of a VA hospital in the deep South. The diagnosis is post-traumatic stress disorder. The therapy consists of a series of notebooks in which Luke is supposed to tell his story "using colored pencils—pastels when I am unsure, darker colors for certainties." Through these notebooks, Luke records his post-Vietnam downfall, as the bookish, sensitive vet becomes a gun for hire. After returning home from his three tours in Southeast Asia, the solitary, disturbed Luke plots to steal art from Tom Morris, a wealthy businessman and collector. Along the way he encounters Morris's wife, Kinnerly, the former love of his life. Predictably, they resume the affair they'd ended years ago as students at Ole Miss. Within six weeks, the scheming Kinnerly has Luke convinced that offing her husband is the only decent thing to do. But soon another local rich guy, Jeff Ballard, also offers Luke a handsome payment for a hit on Tom. Luke discovers that Jeff and Kinnerly have recently been lovers and suspects something fishy, but agrees to take the job anyway. The hit goes awry when a local farmer catches Luke red-handed and blackmails him. Soon, Luke has to kill him, too. Seduction, betrayal, revenge and surprises lurk around the corner as the lovers plot their getaway. The plot makes rapid switchback turns all the way to the last page. Readers will be rapt. (Mar.)