Lethal Experiment - John  Locke I had never heard of John Locke until I read a blog post by Michael Shatzkin who writes about issues related to ebook pricing. Shatzkin noted that many ebook authors were doing quite well pricing their books at $.99, John Locke being a good example of someone making a great deal of money pricing them at that level even though he would probably sell almost as many at $2.99. If his books are 99 cents and most ebooks from big publishers are $9.99 and up, he doesn’t have to prove he’s as good as they are; they have to prove they’re 10 times better than he is!” Shatzkin noted he had read one of Locke’s and “I can tell you this. I’ve read one of John Locke’s books. Nobody I can think of is ten times better than he is.” (http://www.idealog.com/blog/)

Well, I just had to check this out and $.99 is close to pocket change. In 10 seconds I had it on my Kindle and was intrigued. Locke is a good writer and the story intrigued me. Donovan Creed is an ex-assassin for the CIA and Homeland security. “Years ago I’d been a government assassin for the CIA, and the people I killed had been a threat to national security. When I retired, I took a short break and then began killing terrorists for Homeland Security. But those jobs were infrequent, so I began killing people for mob boss Sal Bonadello on the side. Sal’s victims were always criminals and often murderers, so justifying their deaths hadn’t been a problem. But at some point I drifted into doing freelance work for Victor”

Victor is running an experiment to see what people will do for money. Couples are offered $100,000 knowing only that if they do, someone will die. “The Peterson sisters, like Rob and Trish and half-a-dozen others, had accepted “Rumplestilskin Loans” after being told that by taking the money, an unpunished murderer would die. In Victor’s mind, that made the recipients guilty of conspiracy to murder. Hence, accepting the cash, Rob and Trish were sentencing the Peterson sisters to death by execution. When Callie placed the next suitcase, Rob and Trish would have to die. It was, in all respects, a lethal experiment, and it would continue to be one until the day an applicant refused the money.” The variables change with each experiment and its Creed’s job to do the killing. Interesting premise, especially as Creed begins to have his doubts. (We needn’t go into Creed’s lack of moral fiber.) “What, indeed? I wondered. Is this what I’ve been reduced to, a guy who kills civilian men and women who didn’t realize they’d become accessories to murder simply by accepting a sum of money they desperately needed? Was it really a fair experiment?”

Moments after securing the Peterson sisters, he has a heart attack. To say more might spoil it.

Sometimes the book seems like a collection of stories pulled together by a common thread. Minor issue. There are some very, very, funny scenes in this book. The one in the hospital where all the staff look like they might have stolen their lab coats from playschool had me laughing out loud. Locke is good. Buy some for your Kindle. Well worth 10 times the price.