Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"Reality Couldn't Have Done This to Him" ~ A review of Declan Finn's "Set To Kill"

"The Stormtroopers looked at the staff, then each other, nodded, and sent out a BOLO order for Donatello."
So you want to know about Set To Kill by Declan Finn? Well that's a bit of a tale. If you've read the author's first published novel It Was Only On Stun! then you're halfway to understanding it. Me, I've read the book in question, and I'm not sure I fully comprehended the madness in these pages. What you're in for is a story filled with action, mystery, and more than a bit of comedy. That quote above is not even the most insane thing in the book.

After the events at the Vatican (long story), Sean A.P. Ryan is back in the protection game. Not only that, but he's working another con! Unfortunately, he soon finds himself in over his head as mercenaries, bounty hunters, crazed fans, stalkers, and just plain nutty people, assail him from every angle. Again! No wonder he doesn't like working at these things.

But it soon gets weird.

If there is one thing Mr. Finn excels at (there are a few) then it would have to be the action scenes. I'm hard-pressed to think of an author with so many details in their action scenes. Everything flows, the events are described clearly and fit together, and they are usually quite surprising. And funny.

Despite the action and the comedy there are several pretty good mysteries going on. Someone is killing guests at WyvernCon and it is up to the ever-overwhelmed Sean A.P. Ryan to put a stop to it. Oh yeah, and he has to make sure he stays alive with a several million dollar bounty (and growing!) on his head. That's kind of difficult with explosions, rifle shots, and assassins slipping in from every crevice, while he's trying to do his job. I'm starting to think he doesn't get paid enough for this.

Now if there is any complaint to note it is that there is a bit of inside baseball to some of the background elements of the story. Mr. Finn changes the names, but the events are very much based on a real "fandom" event. And it is just about as silly as he describes it as. I'm not going to explain it here because either you already know what it is or you don't care. Nothing I can say will add to it, so I'll just say that you might feel a little lost getting your head around the central conflict. Mr. Finn does his best to explain it at length, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, he does parody the events, and the players involved, quite well.

This is a hard book to really nail down. Would it be correct to call it something like if Dashiell Hammett wrote an episode of Murder, She Wrote thinking it was a sequel to Commando? I'm just not sure. If you enjoyed the previous book in this series, It Was Only On Stun!, then you should enjoy this one more. Whatever it is, Set To Kill accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do.

Should you read this book? Only if you like wanton destruction and humor popping up in strange places. And, really, why wouldn't you like those things?

I can't wait to read the sequel. Surely by then Sean Ryan will have enough of a handle on the con experience to run his own. I could just imagine.


  1. The scene with the Elf looking over the railing and what followed was my favorite. Lots of laugh out loud moments.

  2. Have you read the Pius Man trilogy?

    1. I've read the first book. Really enjoyed it. I'm currently waiting for the reprints of book 2 and 3 to read through the whole thing.