Billy Summers is a professional hit-man ready to retire after his final job. Except everything goes sideways, and things don’t turn out quite as he planned.
If this summary sounds like something you’ve read or watched before, it’s probably because it is. The plot of Billy Summers isn’t anything new or revolutionary, and King showcases his skill as an author by proving that not all stories need to be. I might be a little biased because I love both Stephen King and the Southern Gothic genre, so of course this novel is just about everything I could want.
King also wields his talent by taking character archetypes and making them interesting. Billy is a war veteran killer-with-a-conscience, and Alice is a battered and damaged damsel in need of rescuing. If you’re reading this review and haven’t actually read Billy Summers, please don’t let my paltry descriptions give you the wrong impression. Like the plot, these characters have been written and portrayed hundreds of times… but King once again takes something ordinary and makes it compelling.
It can also be said that Billy Summers is less about characters and plot and more about writing stories. Creating worlds. There is definitely a tale within a tale here – one that is, in my opinion, the least interesting part of the novel – but King’s wisdom and ruminations on writing itself are fascinating. Billy Summers reminded me of Misery somewhat in this way, and in both cases I was delighted to get a small glimpse behind the curtain.
Billy Summers is incredibly readable, compelling, heart-warming and devastating. I know that some will violently disagree with my opinion, but I believe this may be Stephen King’s best book to date.