Liss, David. The Ethical Assassin. Ballantine. March 2006. c.336p. ISBN 1-4000-6421-X. $24.95. Fiction.

Seventeen-year-old Lem Altick has a problem. While selling encyclopedias in a South Florida trailer park, he witnesses the killing of two of his potential customers. Unless he cooperates with the assassin, a vegan animal-rights activist with a series of lessons to impart, he risks being implicated in the crime. Sharp-witted Lem apparently still has much to learn, including why it’s OK to kill certain people but never animals. Among the villains who complicate his life are the local police chief and a middle-aged meth overlord who “mentors” young boys. As events turn increasingly bizarre, Lem finds that it is only by looking at life from the assassin’s skewed perspective that he can survive. Edgar Award-winning novelist Liss (A Spectacle of Corruption) writes his first contemporary thriller, a twisted 1980s tale that mixes just the right touch of levity (characters include B.B. Gunn and Chuck Finn) with serious philosophical issues (e.g., should animals be used to test the lethality of drugs?). Readers will enjoy this wild and highly entertaining ride. For all popular fiction collections.

LJ, vol. 130, no. 19 (November 15, 2005), 63.

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