The very prolific J. A. Konrath published Rescue, A Codename, Hammett Thriller, in 2018. The female protagonist is a government assassin named Hammett, her codename, and he is Tequila, a retired mobster whose specialty was and might still be a leg breaker. Breaking legs would only be incidental and a further step on the path to the killing in which Tequila customarily engages. At the beginning of this novel, Tequila is on break and relaxing in a café. Always on the alert, Tequila recognized Hammett passing by outside. Knowing Hammett didn’t appear anywhere without reason, and fearing that he, Tequila, was the reason and target, Tequila decided to forget further eating and drinking to follow Hammett. It would be easier for tequila to kill Hammett first rather than wait for complicated choreography to play out. This scene-setting leads readers to 6% of the novel.
The next 30% can be divided into two parts. In the first part, Hammett attempts to kill Tequila and vice versa. There are shots fired and intricate close quarters fighting. Fans of unusual fighting styles will enjoy this first portion. The second part is explicit and herculean sex. Some readers will enjoy it, some will be envious, and some will not believe the acrobatics and frequency. Readers are now at 36% of the novel at a point where Hammett and Tequila will join up for a shared mission to kill a horrible, well-defended, evil person. However, at any point, Hammett feels good about possibly killing Tequila and vice versa.
Rescue is the first J. A. Konrath novel I have read that is not for me. Lengthy descriptions of weird and improbable fight scenes do not entertain me. A saving feature of the story is the imaginative descriptions of unusual weaponry. Pistols shoot underwater, there is a revolver that fires three cartridges at a time, and a silencer that is a feature of the bullets, not the gun. There is even one gun that is purported to fire any size cartridge. If I were interested in weapons, I would be scouring the internet to see if any of these special weapons came close to existence in the real world. I am not interested in imaginative armaments or fighting styles.
Tequila is interested in weapons; he is a collector. The reason he is working with Hammett is to acquire weapons that Hammett has managed to buy or steal. Tequila will consider throughout the novel an option of killing Hammett and taking the guns. The only things loved by Hammett are dogs and their welfare; think of Hammett as an animal rights commando.
Konrath tells the story with smart humor throughout, another saving feature of the novel. The story is told in alternating points of view, first from Tequila and then Hammett. Each character will tell almost the same story, and each telling will be in the context of considering killing the other.
And, yes, there is a surprise ending. It is not enough for me to give this 82-page story a five-star rating, my usual for a Konrath work, but it is still four stars because the writing is excellent. Rescue may not have the appropriate length to host the complexity I like in other Konrath novels. Rescue sells for USD 2.99 on Amazon, but I paid USD 0.00 due to an author promotion. I recommend subscribing to Konrath’s newsletter to get announced good deals. Konrath remains one of my favorite “Go-To” authors, and I will read more of his work. When writing as much as Konrath does, the author writes for a broad market. Not every story will fit my reading interest, but most do.