This book has joined the ranks of some of my favorite comic thrillers of all time, including films such as Death Trap, The Grifters, The Ladykillers, Fargo, and Lethal Weapon. Fans of these films who found their ever-so-delicious blend of humor with knuckle biting tension and nonstop action will feel right at home with Show No Teeth.
The premise is brilliant and if I can’t spur the author on to do a sequel with this review, I may just steal the idea and see what I can do with it in my own mock up tribute to the franchise that never was.
It appears that in a small secluded town, somewhere high up in the mountains, assassins come to congregate; it’s not just off-grid, it’s the one place they can feel safe and call home. Understandably, for people in their profession, there aren’t too many places they can go for some real shut-eye, as opposed to sleeping with one eye open. And because there is nowhere else they can go to relax, they protect the town and one another fiercely. And what better protection can you have than a town full of topnotch assassins?
Hmm, that is, until there’s a murder in town, which never happens; no one would dare. Who’d want all these guys after them for disturbing their peace?
Enter the town inspector, an ex-Interpol guy with a pretty impressive resume of his own with putting down bad guys. Still, it’s comical to see him outclassed by the very people he takes to be suspects, and upon whose skills he now ironically depends to help him solve the case. As the bodies pile up and the conspiracy and intrigue mount, it’s not clear which assassins can be trusted, and on what side of the skirmish they belong. Or if they will even choose to remain on the side of the battle they picked. They’re assassins after all.
The laughs are a mile a minute but the story’s pacing is even faster. The plot twists and reveals come nearly as quickly as the blind corners and the dead end alleys in a town that could only idly be called safe for those who love to hide in its many shadows and terrain just perfect for snipers and professional killers, but not so much for anybody else.
The author does a bang up job developing his lead as well as his supporting characters throughout so the fast-pacing, with virtually no timeouts, doesn’t come at the expense of two-dimensional cardboard cutouts standing in for real people that is so often the case with any offering in the action genre.
The author’s breezy writing style, moreover, makes for quick and easy reading on the train, on the bus, or at the end of your evening when your mind is too fried to be tripping over sentences which seem deliberately contrived by authors to force you to slow down and give a more thoughtful read. While I appreciate that approach to storytelling as well, what’s remarkable here is that a thoughtful read is possible even at these high speeds because of how well the assassins’, the inspector’s, and the author’s mind work in real time.
One final note: it’s no mean feat for professional killers to come off as realistic as opposed to half-baked, to an American audience at least, which is hyper-exposed to this kind of material. The author clearly did his homework and it shows.
As nitpicks go, I’m not a big fan of the cover or the title. But everything that lies within is positively sublime.
Read it once and you’ll want to read it again.