Nausea - Ed Kurtz

It always surprises me when I read through reviews that there can be such a difference of opinion between reviewers who find the story fascinating and unputdownable whilst others struggle to finish.

 

Now I did not struggle to finish Nausea, and I really did want to like this short novel. I enjoyed the premise a hitman questioning the reasoning behind his chosen profession...”I do a job, fine, it’s good. Somebody disappears and I get paid”

 

The real problem I had with the story was the timeline. We meet Nick after a particular bloody kill and we are introduced to the young Nick at the start of his “career” A lot of reviews are positive in respect of this, I however found it very confusing and had to constantly backtrack on the text to remind myself where exactly I was....past or present?

 

As one kill merges into another the moral deep within the story and the questions that Nick needs to ask keep recurring...”The doubt. The overthinking. What was the point in it all? It wouldn’t bring any of them back. And it wouldn’t stop anyone else from getting what was coming to them, either. Even if Nick bowed out straightaway, vanished into the night never to be heard from again, there was always going to be someone else....”

 

A hitman is a great subject to have at the centre of a moral dilemma as to fulfil his role he must be divorced from the normal rules that govern society and yet possess single mindedness, inner strength and cunning. It is only when these qualities disappear that the human frailty present within Nick begins to emerge and reassert itself...”Murder. That was the stuff of human instinct, wasn’t it? Kill and f**k and eat and s**t and see who’s standing atop the mountain of cadavers come dusk, dripping blood and screaming victorious....”

 

There were of course enjoyable moments and characters in the course of this “noir” telling: Nick is enamoured with the music of Nat King Cole....”and on the same night he’s asked to kill a dude called Nathan K. Cole” I also admired the puzzling character of sweet Lorraine and her connection to the killers clients, her psychotic behaviour made an interesting paradoxical to the morally adrift Nick

 

The few highlights could not however rescue the confusion I felt throughout. I had very little sympathy with the main character, and the ending when it occurred was totally justified.