‘The Kills’, by Richard House

Review by John Sunyer

The Kills, by Richard House, Picador, RRP£9.99, 1,024 pages

The Kills, longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, is a doorstopping thriller made up of four connected books, each first published digitally.

Taken as a whole, the novel focuses on the aftermath of the Iraq conflict. Unlike most war literature, it focuses on non-combatants, specifically on the British and American civilian contractors who have taken up highly paid short-term jobs in the danger zone. At the heart of the book is a hunt for a missing $53m – a contractor’s underhand scheme to steal funds from an American business venture in the Iraqi desert.

For all its bulk The Kills proves easily digestible; less so the multimedia content. The couple of hours’ worth of extra video available online mostly consists of films of moody scenery over which actors whisper accounts of important (or not) events in the characters’ lives. It is an unnecessary undertaking; the mass of words is compelling enough.

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