The book’s chief protagonist, JJ Stoner, is an ex-military (currently black ops), no-nonsense gun for hire. Stoner does his government’s deniable dirty work, preferring his kills to be up close and personal. An efficient assassin, his stone-cold brutality is happily at odds with his eloquence. The acid, snappy dialogue here earns comparisons with Raymond Chandler. Thrill seekers will find plenty to like and lovers of Tarantino-style nonchalant violence are also well catered for. I felt there was a cinematic quality to Westworth’s writing, setting up a movie in my mind as the read progressed. Cleverly, he somehow fashions a karmic beauty in one standout scene where the incongruity of murderous violence seems wonderfully poetic amidst tranquil surroundings.
The excerpt from the forthcoming novel is delightfully amoral. I’m looking forward to the main event!
———Review by Kevin Ansbro———
Don’t start reading this if you have a job to do. It is unputdownable. Beautiful edgy writing and a cracking read from start to finish.
——–Review by Al Stevens———
The fourth JJ Stoner short story sees our protagonist in reflective mood, whilst carrying out yet another task assigned to him by ‘The Hard Man’. Westworth’s visceral prose draws vivid visual scenes with a few well-crafted paragraphs. There is no unnecessary padding in this writing. The precisely chosen language is lean, yet richly evocative of a shadowed, half seen world, where ‘wet work’ is an everyday occurrence.
Whether describing a bucolic Sylvan scene tinged with murderous acts, or the nuances of ordnance, Westworth’s fiction flows sinuously, with labyrinthine plot twists and turns. Hard edged and compelling writing to be savoured.
I loved the cover, as well!
———Review by Julieanna———-
Some characters in literature are given a loose description and the reader makes up their own mind as to their physical appearance. JJ Stoner is described in some detail in his short stories by Frank Westworth and his image is vivid. Once you add in his black ops background and his current occupation – killer for hire – then that image springs into life. It’s almost as if we’ve already seen him in a series of films; we have grown up with him, he can do no wrong. He has become part of our culture. No matter how dark and brutal the backdrop to the action, how basic the dialogue appears, how simplistic the story line, you have to turn page after page, afraid to miss any of the action.
When you reach the end, the author feeds you tasty morsels from his other delights, while you get your breath back. It doesn’t get much better than this.
———Review by Father Ted———
The Online Urban Dictionary defines a ‘stoner’ as ‘…generally friendly… peaceful, and harmless…’ I’d guess that Frank Westworth didn’t use this dictionary for inspiration when naming his psychotic creation, because none of the above applies.
Four Cornered is the latest outing for JJ Stoner and opens with the Malevolent Mercenary indulging in an uncharacteristic and almost philosophical conversation with The Hard Man, another Westworth regular. Just as I feared that Stoner had turned into a bit of a Kant rather than the brooding presence of previous books, the first outbreak of violence saved the day as possibly the world’s most inept hit man bites the dust.
From then on it’s classic Stoner with a number of storylines making up what I suppose is a typical working day for the average contract killer / black ops operative. From an ongoing surveillance operation, where Stoner has to reign in Shard who proves to be an enthusiastic right hand man liable to shoot first and ask questions later, to a dangerous run in at a burger bar (hasn’t Stoner ever heard of cholesterol?), then before you can say ‘David Kelly’ a doctor accusing the Government of telling fibs finds himself being threatened.
To say more would give the tale away (and my tea would go cold), but Stoner fans won’t be disappointed. Our lad does appear more cerebral and certainly more vocal than in previous outings but it’s not too massive a change and adds to the character. It’s not as if he’s taken up crochet or developed an unlikely interest in soft furnishings. Another winner from Westworth.
——-Review by Oldbiker——–
In Four Cornered we see yet another side to this protagonist whose actions are relentlessly simple – do the job in the most efficient manner – but whose character is far more complex than that. This time we see a Stoner with feelings… It’s not a pretty sight.
These short stories would make excellent ‘after the watershed’ television drama. The full length Killing Sisters books would need to be a film or TV serial to do them justice…
——–Review by Chris Graham———
Thanks to all the reviewers for their comments and feedback.