'The Plotters' book cover Image Credit: Supplied

Behind every killing, the saying goes, there is an anonymous mastermind. This person works behind the scenes, in the shadows. That’s the premise of The Plotters.

Novelist Un-su Kim, also known as the Korean Henning Mankell, has written a gripping crime novel set in an alternate Seoul, where assassination guilds compete for market dominance.

The best bit about the work is the plotter, a mastermind who working in the shadows. Then there is an assassin, who never questions anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read.

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However, Reseng is not your typical assassin. In-between scouting out his next victim and sourcing information about how best to dispose of them, he reads books that are otherwise never opened.

At a personal crossroads

The Plotters begins with Reseng on the job and at a personal crossroads. He spies on his latest target, a high-ranking military officer, from the cover of a forest behind the man’s cottage.

The assassin watches the guy play with his own prized loyal hunter, a handsome and fearsome mastiff who chases down thrown toys and retrieves them for his master without ever wondering why they were thrown.

There’s a lively gallows humor in the book and scenes where Reseng pays regular visits to the man who cremates gang-war victims, and he casually slices off one man’s fingers as coolly as you might make a salad.

The Plotters is gripping yes but it a deeply entertaining thriller that has both wit and lyricism. Go for it.

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE-based freelancer writer