Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kill Me, by Stephen White

This audiobook is available in the Alachua County Library, came on 10 discs, and was read by Dick Hill. It is part of the series that features a psychologist named Alan Gregory, except that Alan only has a bit part in this novel. The story is about one of his patients.

The main character tells his story, but never his name. He is rich, white, middle-aged male who has made a boatload of money in the medical technology field. He is a charismatic, athletic risk-taker, and his days are numbered. He has an aneurysm in his brain, but that is probably not what is going to kill him.

He has insured himself against suffering, some time before he knew of his condition, by contracting the services of a shadowy organization that promises to kill him before he becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. He refers to them as "The Death Angels", but this odd insurance company has no listing on the NYSE, no business cards, and no legal standing. They are sincere, well-meaning, fastidious in their agreements and how they keep them, and deadly. Our nameless hero got hooked up with them through a friend whose wife lingered long as she waited to die. They have a mutual friend who recently went too long without oxygen on a cave-diving trip, and now he's a vegetable. Our man does not want this to happen to him, so after much consideration he applies for this service.

It was almost delightful to hear the language of this arrangement for "end of life services". It's very legal-sounding, with all the bases covered and the contingencies laid out. There are all kinds of rule that the Death Angels conscientiously follow, including the one that says this service is irrevocable. You have made this decision while you were in your right mind. It was intended to protect you from the indecision you would have when you are impaired.

The rest of this book is about our man's attempts to get out of the deal when he has some unfinished business land on his doorstep. This group of merciful assassins is resourceful, well-equipped, and quite determined to earn their premiums.

For all of its nuttiness as a concept, this is really a very thoughtful story. It is the best this author has created, and the narration is mesmerizing. Entertaining, suspenseful and philosophical, this is a 4 star novel. It includes a forward by the author which tells what true story inspired him.

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