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Publisher's Summary

"[A] powerhouse of a novel.... It reads as if Haruki Murakami rewrote The Day of the Jackal." (Locus Magazine

"Editor's Choice" New York Times Book Review

"The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019" CrimeReads

"Most Anticipated Books of 2019" Lit Hub

"This Winter's Best Thrillers" Chicago Review of Books

"Best Books of the Year" Apple

A fantastical crime novel set in an alternate Seoul where assassination guilds compete for market dominance.

Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind - a plotter - working in the shadows. Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city's most dangerous criminals, but their existence is little more than legend. Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want?

Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters "The Library", Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women - a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian - Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.

Crackling with action and filled with unforgettable characters, The Plotters is a deeply entertaining thriller that soars with the soul, wit, and lyricism of real literary craft.

©2019 Un-su Kim (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

 

  • "Editor's Choice" New York Times Book Review
  • "9 New Books We Recommend This Week" New York Times
  • "The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019" CrimeReads
  • “Most Anticipated Books of 2019” Lit Hub
  • "This Winter's Best Thrillers" Chicago Review of Books
  • "Picks of the Week" Publishers Weekly
  • "The Best Books of the Week" New York Post
  • "The Best Reviewed Books of the Week" Book Marks 

"The Plotters tells the story of Renseng, a jaded assassin who startles himself by realizing - somewhat belatedly - that he has a moral code, a sense of honor, a soul. All of these will prove to be perilous liabilities in his world. Un-Su Kim is a tremendous writer, and he’s crafted a smart, stylish, and surprisingly moving thriller.” (Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

"It would be hard to accuse The Plotters, a raucous extravaganza of assassins and lunatics by the lauded Korean writer Un-Su Kim, of conforming to any template." (New York Times Book Review)   

"The Plotters, rendered in English by Sora Kim-Russell, is an unusual book: a violent action-thriller that could also be a parable, a fable of good and evil stitched together with poignant threads.” (Wall Street Journal

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What listeners say about The Plotters

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Not for multi-tasking

I listen to over 150 books a year so it stands to reason that I do so while doing other things - but with The Plotters I could not move, not get out of the car, not cook, not concentrate on anything but sitting and just listening. I had to know what would happen next. I loved it, and I think it is a book that will stay in my head for a long time because the author paints such a picture with his words that I am left feeling like I saw a movie.

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Dark and violent

At first I was drawn in by the narrator. The simple Hemingway style of the writing had a hypnotic quality and the surreal content was gripping. However, Homer never wrote of the death of Achilles. There is so evidence of this part of the ancient myth in a Chalcidian pot from the now-lost Penbroke-Hope collection, dated ca. 540 BC, which shows Achilles on the ground with an arrow sticking from his back and an arrow which has pierced his ankle. So it was disappointing that the author cites Homer as the source of this story. It is interesting that this leads the main character to ponder why Achilles never protected this part of his anatomy. Homer's text speaks often of the fated death of Achilles. Maybe something is lost in the translation the main character is reading in Korean. Or it was not Homer at all, just a book of generic Greek myths. Anyway, I was turned off by this and the depressing nature of the turn the story took after the first chapter. Not a story I can recommend.

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Cinematic and philosophical

The Plotters is a gem I found in the sale “bin.” It reads like a film, owing to the fortuitous combination of writing, translation, and narration. The narrator uses a British accent and reflects, presumably, Korean class differences with Western dialects. I think the book hints at important elements of S. Korean history and culture, not least of which are colonialism, religion, capitalism, and gender. Yes, it’s violent and about assassins, but that’s what makes it good—the protagonist is introspective and really something of a hero—if that were even possible in his world.