When the Music's Over - Aidan Thorn

Most people look forward to retirement but it might depend on what you did for a living. For example, if you were.…oooh, I don’t know.… a hitman, you’d probably enjoy living a quiet life where no one knows your face or reputation. Wynn McDonald is that guy. And it’s why he’s less than thrilled to get a call from Alan Castle.

 

Alan & Terry Weir are hard men who’ve ruled Birmingham for years. Wynn was their hired gun before stepping away from the game more than a decade ago. Now Alan wants him back for a special job. Terry’s son Harry has been murdered by his business partner Benny Gower who’s since disappeared. The “request” is simple: find him & make him suffer.

 

Wynn is stunned. He knew both men well. And Benny has to know Terry Weir will hunt him to the ends of the earth. What was he thinking? It makes no sense. Wynn has no choice but to return to Birmingham & begins by making the rounds of Benny’s friends & colleagues. Sure, someone might know where he’s gone but it’s more than that. Wynn was never too concerned with motive in the past but this time he needs to understand why it happened to ensure he kills the right guy.

 

In alternate chapters we follow Benny as he goes on the run & begins a new life in another city. We also get the scoop on Benny’s relationship with Harry & how it all went wrong.

 

And that’s all I’ll say about the plot, folks. At face value, it’s a well written & pacy example of a great Brit Grit novel. What elevates this above many is the quiet & dignified depth provided by Wynn’s character. There’s no doubt he fits the definition of a bad guy. But as we accompany him on his search for Benny, another man emerges.

 

A solitary retirement & advancing age have given Wynn a chance to think about his life & the things he’s done. The passage of time affects all of us, shifting priorities & changing perceptions. Wynn is no different & he finds himself pondering the meaning of loyalty, friendship & right vs. wrong. Childhood memories bubble to the surface as he tries to remember when he last felt happiness. All of this plus his interactions with the people in Benny’s life combine to give a poignant portrait of an aging criminal who is running out of time.

 

I really enjoyed this. The characters are compelling & the author keeps you guessing as to how it will all pan out. By the time the music stopped, somehow I’d developed a big old soft spot for a hitman. Who’d of thunk it.