What I like about Billie Eilish’s novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is that there is an order to the madness. The characters of the book know what they are doing, and they get the payoff at the end. The reader doesn’t feel like a clueless fool.
The final chapter is funny. There is a flashback to a real life event in a mall. The man-eating animals are real and there are fifty million people in the United States who can barely feed their families.
The book is set in Queens, New York. It is set in the eighties, right after the murder rate skyrocketed, and was only topped later by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Billie Eilish uses a lot of vivid detail about urban life.
In the beginning of the book, we learn about the urban gangs in the Bronx. They are all the same gangs, but the members are different. All are a unified group, though. They hunt down and kill other urban gangs and homeless people, for sport.
The leader of one of these gangs is John Adams. The story is about how Adams goes on trial, only to be convicted of a crime he did not commit. There is an appeal, and he is released.
Billie Eilish does an excellent job of telling us about the problems in the Bronx in the eighties. We read about crime, corruption, and the decline of the Bronx in the eighties. She has a masterful eye for detail, and her use of dialogue and diction is quite stunning.
Murder is the foundation of the story. Victims are dumped in open sewers and often shot as their killer flees. Sex crimes are rampant in the Bronx.
This book is very suspenseful and entertaining. My husband and I both enjoyed the book. I recommend this book to fans of novels set in urban areas.
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