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Books by David Liss

The Ethical Assassin
A New York Times Notable Book

No one is more surprised than Lem Altick when it turns out he’s actually good at peddling encyclopedias door to door. He hates the predatory world of sales, but he needs the money to pay for college. Then things go horribly wrong. In a sweltering trailer in rural Florida, a couple Lem has spent hours pitching is shot dead before his eyes, and the unassuming young man descends into the dark world of conspiracy and murder.

Not just murder; assassination—or so claims the killer, the mysterious and strangely charismatic Melford Kean who has struck without remorse and with remarkable good cheer. But the self-styled ethical assassin hadn’t planned on witnesses, and so he makes Lem a deal: stay quiet, and there will be no problems, but go to the police, and Lem will take the blame for the killings.  Before Lem can decide he is drawn against his will into the ethical assassin’s orbit and pulled into the dark underbelly of rural Florida, a bizarre world populated by desperate schemers and the staging ground for a bloody philosophical battle pitting ideals against capital.

As Lem forms an unlikely, and perhaps unwise, friendship with Melford, a self-styled post-Marxist vigilante, he will have to outwit a crooked police chief who wants Lem dead; learn the hidden agenda of a sexy recovered meth addict and former conjoined twin who suffers from repressed longings and conflicted loyalties; and discover the dark secret of the magnetic encyclopedia guru who sells something much more potent than books. To save himself, he will unravel the mystery of why the ethical assassin killed Lem’s sales prospects, and more importantly, and more unlikely, he will have to get out of town alive.

Award-winning author David Liss skillfully interweaves a gallery of eccentric characters with a multilayered plot characterized by its unpredictable twists and turns. The Ethical Assassin is a darkly comic novel that will leave readers in suspense until the very last page.

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