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The Ethical Assassin by David Liss
In The Ethical Assassin, Lem Altick is a recent high school graduate in Florida selling encyclopedias door-to-door to raise money so he can go to college at Columbia. He finds he's good at it, targeting poor families who can be persuaded it's the ticket to success for their kids. After spending hours closing the sale in a rural trailer, an assassin bursts in murders the couple Lem had convinced. The assassin is the charismatic Mel Kean, who tells Lem to keep his mouth shut or he'll be framed for the murders. Lem finds himself drawn into Mel's world with its corrupt policemen, shady oddball characters, murder, drugs, and enough strange activity to render it all a bit surreal. It's a world Lem has to navigate carefully to come out alive. After his successful historical novels, David Liss explores the contemporary world and The Ethical Assassin has received mostly positive reviews. BookPage says, "The reluctant hero's journey involving criminal affairs and bizarre characters is not only engaging, but also refreshingly funny. The Ethical Assassin is a vibrant novel that is difficult to put down."