Kernick, Simon 1966-
Kernick, Simon 1966-
Born 1966, in Slough, England; married; children: Amy, Rachel. Education: Brighton Polytechnic (now the University of Brighton), graduated, 1991.
Home—Oxfordshire, England. Agent—Amanda Preston, Sheil Land Associates, 52 Doughty St., London WC1N 2LS, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and novelist. Also worked variously as a stockroom assistant, plant and transportation manager, fruit picker, barman, Christmas tree uprooter, laborer on a road-building crew, stockroom assistant, and computer software salesman.
The Business of Dying, Bantam Press (London, England), 2002, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.
The Murder Exchange, Bantam Press (London, England), 2003, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
The Crime Trade, Bantam Press (London, England), 2004.
Relentless, Bantam Press (London, England), 2006.
A Good Day to Die, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
Die Twice: Two Crime Novels in One, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2006.
Severed, Bantam Press (London, England), 2007.
Author's works have been translated into eight foreign languages.
Simon Kernick first began writing stories, he once told CA, "pretty much as soon as I could pick up a pen." He wrote several novellas in his teens and twenties, but it was only after spending ten years as a computer software salesman in London that Kernick embarked on a new career as a novelist with the crime novel The Business of Dying. In the book, protagonist Dennis Milne is a bitter London police detective who has rationalized taking a second job as a hit man. His particular brand of morality requires that his victims be deserving of death, having escaped proper punishment by the authorities. But Milne becomes uncomfortable with this arrangement in the course of a murder investigation concerning the death of an eighteen-year-old prostitute. When he does not agree with the resolution of the investigation, he continues to work on the case and sees it as a way of making up for his own crimes. Matters become worse when Milne discovers that his most recent assassination targeted innocent customs agents and an accountant, men he had been told were drug dealers. Worse, an eye witness could uncover his involvement.
This antihero and Kernick's telling of his story impressed many reviewers. Writing on the Deadly Pleasures Web site, George Easter likened the novel to the work of Dennis Lehane and wrote: "Kernick's writing is crystal clear, fast paced, and at times disturbingly graphic. The moral dilemmas he poses through his protagonist's actions really kept my interest throughout." Rex Klett commented in Library Journal: "Told with clarity and wit, this is an unusual but effective approach to the British police procedural." And a Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that "Kernick shows every sign of being a major talent" and applauded that the author "does a masterful job of making Milne sympathetic, despite his callous brutalities, by combining a captivating first-person narrative with emotionally complex characterization."
Kernick's second novel is The Murder Exchange. In this crime story, Max Iverson is a former soldier and ex-mercenary who reluctantly agrees to work as bodyguard for shady club owner Roy Fowler; when Fowler is killed, Iverson has to go into hiding to protect his own life. The story is told in a dual narrative, with a second perspective offered by police officer John Gallen, another dark character who hasn't always behaved admirably. The reader is not initially able to determine which man is speaking in the first chapter, which is followed by a jump back in time to two weeks earlier. According to Shots Magazine Web site reviewer Mike Sto- tter, "Kernick has the trick of slipping gears like a Formula One racing driver, and gives us a fast-paced thriller with an assured voice which is deceptively deep but told with economy."
As Kernick's third novel, The Crime Trade, opens, a meticulously planned Colombian drug sting devolves rapidly into gunfire and bloodshed when a violent group of associated criminals arrives unexpectedly. The partner of dedicated but unpleasant undercover police officer Stegs Jenner is killed in the melee, which ignites in him a thirst for revenge. The beating the police take in the media is largely forgotten when the authorities realize that it was probably one of their own who tipped the drug dealers off. When the likely source of the information leak that led to the carnage is found dead, Detective Inspector John Gallen investigates, with Jenner high among the possible suspects in the killing. As the investigation unfolds, the limits of Jenner's behavior are tested while the reader is left to wonder how far the bitter and vengeful cop will go. Kernick's performance as the author of The Crime Trade "adds him to the company of the English police procedural elite," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Booklist reviewer David Wright called the book a "solid, morally ambiguous mystery with some great tricks up its sleeve."
In Relentless, protagonist Tom Meron receives a telephone call from an old friend. The call is far from being a pleasant chat, however, as Meron listens, horrified, to what sounds like his buddy being savagely murdered on the other end of the phone. The last words his friend utters are Meron's address, and whoever killed the other man is sure to arrive at his house any minute. In a desperate bid to survive, Meron gathers his children and flees, hoping to discover the truth behind the deadly situation he's inadvertently and unwillingly become involved in. A reviewer in the Manchester Guardian remarked that the "book hops along at a terrific pace."
A Good Day to Die again focuses on cop-turned-hitman Dennis Milne. After killing several innocent men he mistook for criminals, Milne left London for the Philippines, where he took on a new identity and tried to forge a new life. Now known as Mick Kane, Milne has once again fallen into old habits. He works as a hitman-for-hire in Sabang Bay, where his twisted morals and conviction that the truly irredeemable deserve to die frequently put him behind the trigger. His latest target is a particularly satisfying one: he is gunning for a well-known London snitch who is also wanted for killing a friend, Detective Asif Malik. Convinced that others are involved, Milne returns to England to track them down to further avenge the fallen Malik. When he takes a closer look at the case Malik was investigating when he was killed, Milne becomes involved with a local crime boss and is nearly slain in an ambush. Deadly danger then becomes his constant companion as he dodges more attempts on his life while trying to uncover the secrets behind the investigation that has sparked so much violence. Even a match-up with a lovely female reporter does little to ease Milne's tension. A Publishers Weekly contributor stated: "Though uneven at times, this action-packed page-turner will earn Kernick new followers." Booklist reviewer David Wright called the novel "a good book for a breakthrough and a sure bet for fans of gritty Brits and hardboiled thrills."
"For me … the most important thing [is] keeping the readers entertained," Kernick once told CA. "What I'm trying to do is introduce new characters, both criminals and detectives, so that the series remains fresh and varied, but always staying in the London setting, which is such an important backdrop to my work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2005, David Wright, review of The Crime Trade, p. 1435; July 1, 2006, David Wright, review of A Good Day to Die, p. 38.
Guardian (Manchester, England), July 1, 2006, Matthew Lewin, "Dead Heat," review of Relentless.
Independent on Sunday (London, England), July, 2002, review of The Business of Dying.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of The Crime Trade, p. 389; August 1, 2006, review of A Good Day to Die, p. 756.
Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Business of Dying, p. 171.
Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of The Business of Dying, p. 203; June 26, 2006, review of A Good Day to Die, p. 34.
Best Reviews,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (May 16, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of The Business of Dying; (June 14, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of The Murder Exchange; (May 2, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Crime Trade.
Books at Transworld,http://www.booksattransworld.co.uk/ (May 7, 2003), review of The Murder Exchange.
Books 'n' Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (May 7, 2007), review of The Murder Exchange; review of The Crime Trade.
Deadly Pleasures,http://www.deadlypleasures.com/ (June 30, 2002), George Easter, review of The Business of Dying.
January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (May 7, 2007), Ali Karim, interview with Simon Kernick.
Shots Magazine,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (May 7, 2007), Mike Stotter, review of The Murder Exchange.
Spinetingler Magazine,http://www.spinetinglermag.com/ (May 7, 2007), Sandra Ruttan, review of A Good Day to Die.
Simon Kernick Home Page,http://www.simonkernick.com (May 7, 2007).