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Man Who Killed, The

A Novel

by Fraser Nixon

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literary, historical, crime
list price: $22.95
also available: eBook
category: Fiction
published: 2011
publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award - First Book
  • Short-listed, Amazon.ca First Novel Award
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A rye-soaked neo-noir novel about a small-time crook on a crime spree through Prohibition era Montreal.

Montreal, 1926. Mick is down on his luck until an old pal offers him a loaded revolver and a job as a bootlegger riding shotgun in a truck running booze across the border. Stateside Prohibition has opened up a market for certain amusements, vicious or otherwise. Mick takes the job -- and his problems begin.

Through his old friend Jack, Mick falls deeper into the life of the two-bit hood. From whorehouse to gentlemen's club, through back alleys and deluxe hotels, jazz joints, opium dens, baseball diamonds, cheap diners and anywhere trouble is to be found, Mick burns his way through the City of Two Solitudes. Other people are in town for their own reasons. Babe Ruth's here; Harry Houdini, too.

The Man Who Killed is a tale of political corruption and crime, of sexual jealousy and heartbreak, a portrait of a city after last call, of smoke-filled saloons, vaudeville shows, and gunfire in the night. Shot through with dark humour and strange pathos, this is a novel of two friends who do bad things mostly for money, sometimes for fun.

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Editorial Reviews

"The Man Who Killed is an unqualified showstopper of a first novel. It's hard to imagine a more visceral evocation of time and place than the grim and grimy Gomorrah of the North that Nixon meticulously conjures into a blood-and-bone character out of Prohibition-era Montreal...A seething neo-noir tale of booze-running, murder, betrayal and knuckle-bruising politics."

— Winnipeg Free Press

"Nixon evokes a jazz-era Montreal to effect, but injects the scenes with the sinister. Caught in the murky territory of gangsters and prostitutes, this Jekyll-Hyde tale for the rum-running set is murky with guns, government corruption, drug money and self-justifications for thievery and murder...Nixon manages to provide a portrait of an emerging nation in this dark yarn, politicizing his gangster tale with a conception of a budding nation on the cusp of its own identity crisis, 'the fair-haired child of the Empire' who flirts with the evil underbelly of civilization. "

— Telegraph-Journal

"There's Houdini, and the King-Byng, and boozejackings, unfolding through a most inviting narrative haze. The novel remains artificial, a guilty, playful treat, but Nixon has well-tuned comic ear and generic stamina, and The Man Who Killed is enough to make us look forward to his next."

— Rover: Montreal Arts Uncovered

"...stylish and assured....Like Raymond Chandler, Nixon possesses a poet's ear for the telling detail as well as the master's gift of combining street-level realism with jaded romanticism." (Starred Review)

— Publishers Weekly

"Nixon seems to have created his own argot for the novel, filling the book with inventive slang...and self-consciously wry dialogue. But he gets away with it because the story is told in the first person, and Mick's charismatic persona makes the lingo breathe...Nixon's highly creative presentation elevates it several notches. An agreeable mixture of noir, historical fiction, and style."

— Booklist

"Like Ellroy's White Jazz, Nixon hotwires noir and takes it to places both great and strange, cruising a Prohibition era Montreal every bit as dangerous as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. A mesmerizing read by a writer of enormous talent and insight."

— Michael Turner

"The Man Who Killed is a rip-roaring, page-turning thriller with characters who will first charm and then terrify you, a noir setting that is vividly and realistically depicted, and a story that gallops along to its inevitable but still powerful climax without ever pausing to take a breath...Just be warned: once you begin reading, don't plan on going anywhere until you're done -- you'd need to be Houdini to escape this story's grasp."

— Vancouver Sun

"The Man Who Killed is a terrific noir novel...Nixon, a former actor, painter, salesman and electrician, has a great eye for period detail and a solid grasp of the nuances of noir. This is a great weekend escape novel."

— Globe & Mail

"The language is clipped and quick on its feet, with all of the jaded poetry of noir."

— Georgia Straight

"A stylish riff on sophisticated film noir posters of the early 1940's...It is an impressive feat to get a largely balck-and-white cover approved in a time when the refrain most often heard is, 'More colour, please!'"

— Quill & Quire

"Though Mick plays the central role in the text, in many ways it is the city that is the most interesting character. Through the language and various references, Nixon goes out of his way to offer as much immersion into Montreal of the 1920s as he can...it allows the city to come to life, in all its gruesome glory."

— BC Bookworld

"Fraser Nixon's debut novel is a fast, sharp piece of work...in the subtlty of Nixon's examination of the consequences of violence, the meticulousness of the plot, and the beauty of the language The Man Who Killed is as literary as anything out there."

— The Millions
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About the Author

Fraser Nixon

Fraser Nixon has lived in Paris, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. His most recent novel is Straight to the Head. His first novel, The Man Who Killed, was shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

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