Audiobook Review: The Exterminators by Bill Fitzhugh

2 02 2012

The Exterminators: An Assassin Bug Thriller by Bill Fitzhugh

Read by Tom Weiner

Blackstone Audio

Length: 9 Hrs and 36 Min

Genre: Satirical Thriller

Quick Thoughts:Fans of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey will definitely find a lot to like in The Exterminators, in fact, anyone who enjoys a good laugh, a well plotted thriller and a book that will make you think should add The Exterminators to their reading lists.

Grade: A-

Bill Fitzhugh used to be one of my favorite writers. OK, that probably sounds a bit harsh, so I will elaborate. I love Bill Fitzhugh’s books, but in a way he fell off my radar for a bit. The last Bill Fitzhugh book I read was about 6 years ago, called Highway 61 Resurfaced. It wasn’t my favorite book of his, but I still enjoyed the heck out of it. It was actually one of the last books I read before I transitioned from an exclusively print reader to someone who consumed most of his books through audiobook form. Since then, Fitzhugh has only released one novel, which he co-wrote with the county musicians Brooks and Dunne, and for some reason, I just never picked it up.  Yet, when I heard Fitzhugh was releasing a new novel, it put a nice big smile on my face. When I discover that the new book was going to be a follow up to his wonderful novel Pest Control, I let out a girlish squeal. When I heard it would also be released in audiobook form from one of my favorite audiobook production companies, Blackstone Audio, my squeal was accompanied by a dance of joy that scared the neighbors and sent my dog to his favorite hiding place under the bed. Now, if you are a fan of well plotted thrillers with a satirical edge that will make you laugh as it makes you think, you should give Pest Control a try, oh, and don’t forget Cross Dressing (which may be my favorite Fitzhugh novel) and Heart Seizures, oh, and Fender Benders, … oh heck, check them all out, because there really isn’t a clunker in the mix. Yet, this is a review of The Exterminators, so, does it live up to my personal high expectations? Yes. (I guess you’ll want more than that, so here we go.)

Bob Dillon (no, not that one) has been training assassins for most of his life. Training them to be the perfect killers. Of course, these assassins are actually insects, and Bob is using them to perfect his totally green eco-friendly Pest Control system. Yet, years ago he was mistaken for an actually assassin, and a 10 million dollar bounty was placed on his head. With the help of former Killer-for-hire Klaus, Bob faked his death, and now he and his family are living a quiet existence in rural Oregon. Yet, when DARPA decides that Bob’s killer bugs may just be the next generation weapon in the war on Terror, The Dillon family and Klaus are again pulled into a life threatening situation. Fitzhugh hasn’t lost his touch with The Exterminators, a laugh out loud satirical skewering of our modern culture. Fitzhugh sets his sights on some easy targets, extreme fundamentalist Christians, Hollywood, audacious quasi-news Talk Show hosts, and, of course, government bureaucracy. Yet, despite the easiness of the targets, Fitzhugh takes them on in clever yet outrageous ways.  Fitzhugh has assembled a wonderful cast of characters, including a rouge CIA agent, a disgruntled Priest, a government bureaucrat who is also a member of a millennial religious faction, an assassin turned screenwriter and Bob’s 16 year old daughter who provided a plethora of laugh out loud moments. Yet, as all good satirical novels do, there are serious questions asked in The Exterminators dealing with bioethics, religious extremism, and Post 9/11 America.  While Fitzhugh provides enough back story to make The Exterminators work as a standalone, I highly recommend you check out Pest Control as well as this novel. Fans of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey will definitely find a lot to like in The Exterminators, in fact, anyone who enjoys a good laugh, a well plotted thriller and a book that will make you think should add The Exterminators to their reading lists.

I have listened to quite a few audiobooks narrated by Tom Weiner, and this is probably my favorite of his performances. Weiner is a veteran, and always gives a solid performance, but here, his deep tones are accompanied with a sardonic wit that brings the story to life. You can just imagine Weiner with a bit of a devilish grin on his face as he slowly details each increasingly crazy scenario that Fitzhugh has created. As someone who read Pest Control in print, I found his voices for the characters, particularly Bob and Klaus, to be dead on. I really enjoyed the fact that he never rushed the narrative, Fitzhugh has set up these elaborate scenarios and Weiner reads them in a deliberate pace that comes off natural, and allows the listener to visualize precisely what Fitzhugh has set up. With The Exterminators, Bill Fitzhugh has regained his rightful place as one of my favorite writers and I hope I don’t have too wait to long for his next novel. .

Note: A special thanks to the good people of Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review.

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One response

3 02 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

This one sounds really entertaining. It isn’t my normal fare, but it might make a nice change of pace.

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