Green Review: Killer by Dave Zeltserman (Serpent’s Tail)

Title: Killer
Author: Dave Zeltserman
Pages: 214
Genre: Crime
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Release: Out Now in Paperback
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail


Leonard March walks free from jail after fourteen years, served after turning state’s witness against Mafia boss Salvatore Lombard. But it was only after Leonard was sentenced that the public learned that he was a Mob (Lombard’s) hitman with eighteen deaths to his name.

Released to public outcry and media furore. Leonard spends his time working as a janitor and looking over his shoulder. But instead of constant threats he finds Sophie, who wants ghost write his life story, she also seems to be in the right places at the right time.

Then an act of public bravery confuses those that are meant to hate and loath him.


You’d think that being in the head of a serial cold hearted killer would be an unpleasant and disturbing experience. Well it is and it isn’t. Leonard’s life is told by alternating from the present to key points in the past.

Zeltserman’s writing is a wonderful example of show don’t tell. He doesn’t tell us to be sympathetic you just start to feel for March as he’s released to live on the breadline in a grubby apartment with minimum wage job cleaning.

It’s the way that he talks about his family and their alienation that is probably most striking. You get to the outside affect the hits he’s committed on those around him. Not directly but his distance and last minute change of plans. Oh and not to mention the unknown source of this money, which is too much to be unpacking boxes.

That’s not the heart of the tale. It’s about seeing how an ex-Mob hitman reacts in his new environment. How he deals with attention of Sophie. Seeing the reactions of those who recognise him. And waiting for the revenge of his confession 14 years ago.

And comparing that to how he was shaped and seeing the turning points in his life. Zeltserman’s choices and the way he links them feel exactly right. He times the revelations and the peeling away of the past to enhance events happening in the present.

I can’t think of anything that didn’t feel like it couldn’t have happened. Yes it feels heightened and enhanced but nothing that’s going to make you think that you are in a TV gangster movie.


It’s thin but no less powerful. Though only point I did feel rushed was the final section. I can see why it was and why we don’t linger but the tone is a bit different from the rest. The ending will leave you in no doubt that prison has made March reevaluate his life and he’s expected his lot.

Highly Recommended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *