[Amazon Link]

I really liked Frank J. Fleming's trilogy of political humor (blogged here, here, and here). So I eagerly looked forward to this science fiction novel. But as the nice Hispanic lady taking my blood pressure said: "Ees not good." And I say that with a heavy heart. (Heh.) I would have really liked to recommend it.

The narrator/protagonist is Rico; thanks to his genetically-engineered origin, he has heightened senses, quick reflexes, superior strength, and a quick mind. But he is also totally lacking a conscience, no ethical sense whatsoever. That particular combination of qualities makes him ideally suited to his profession: hitman for an intergalactic crime syndicate. He has his own spaceship managed by an AI named Dip, and he travels to various planets, rubbing out whatever victims his superiors finger.

But things go wrong on his current assignment. He accidentally thwarts a terrorist plot, becomes a local hero, and his cover story gets him affiliated with a pretty lady cop. In a plot twist you will see coming a mile off, she has her own issues. Nevertheless, their relationship deepens.

It's not impossible to write decently gripping fiction with a hitman protagonist. Lawrence Block did it. But Rico is humorless, monotonous, and generally devoid of any interesting traits. If your Roomba could write about its adventures in dirt-sucking, it would be about this interesting.

Also not helping: it's way too long. Amazon reports the print edition comes in at 300 pages. The idea here might support a novella. So I found it to be a slog.

But it currently has a 4.4 out of 5 rating at Amazon, so your mileage may vary.