Friday, October 28, 2016

Review of "Pest Control" by Bill Fitzhugh

In this comic thriller New York City exterminator Bob Dillon loses his job when he refuses to use high concentrations of bug-killing chemicals, fearing they'll harm the environment. Instead, Bob has a home lab where he experiments with 'assassin bugs' - natural predators of termites, roaches, etc. - in an attempt to find a strain that can wipe out pests naturally and efficiently.

Wanting to advertise his natural pest control business Bob distributes flyers with a photo of himself in a cap emblazoned 'Exterminator.' This falls into the hands of Marcel, a middleman who connects hit men/women with people who want to hire them. Marcel, marveling that Bob advertises himself so freely, hires the NY exterminator to kill someone - thinking Bob's assertion that he only kills bugs is a 'wink wink' code.

Before long a couple of Bob's 'hits' are killed - without his participation or knowledge - and his lucrative payments for the jobs go astray. Thus, though Bob is a rising star in the assassin business, he remains completely oblivious to what's going on.

So Bob continues his experiments, breeding assassin bugs and placing them in roach-infested buildings to test them out. Meanwhile, Bob's usually devoted wife Mary - hoping to spur Bob into getting a real job that helps pay the bills - takes their daughter and leaves.

Things get even more confused when the CIA - which maintains a top ten list of the world's best assassins - becomes aware of Bob and hires him for a job. Before long a Bolivian drug lord puts a ten million dollar bounty on Bob's head and things get really out of control. The world's best assassins - as well as a few amateurs - flood into New York searching for the exterminator. These assassins, each having a unique (sometimes quite unusual) appearance and technique, are hilarious.

There's a lot of action in the story, with people running around, shooting, stabbing, getting mobbed by savage insects, and so on. Even Mary, sympathetic but confused, returns to help out. The slew of characters in the story are amusing, exchanging plenty of fun dialog and remarks.

I liked the story as well as the descriptions of Bob's experiments. His attempts to breed bugs with specific roach-killing characterstics is interesting and informative. Good book, recommended for thriller fans who want a light, easy read that's 'out of the box'.  

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