by Un-Su Kim
Translated from the Korean
by Sora Kim-Russell
When I use the adjective quirky to describe a book, more often than not, the book is French. This time, it is Korean. I believe this is only the third book I have read translated from the Korean. The Vegetarian was definitely quirky. The Plotters, a thriller featuring some type of Korean Mafiosi, totally fits the bill.
I was totally hooked from the opening chapter:
Reseng, an experienced assassin, is sent to kill an old man in a secluded area. Through his binoculars, he observes his target. Possibly touched by the beauty and simplicity of the scene, as he watches the old man watering his flowers, and his dog, he feels the time has not come for him to kill. He decides to spend the night on the mountain and kill the old man on the following morning. But something unexpected happens to him during the night.
Something quite hilarious at first. And as the reader, you let yourself lulled by the beautiful prose and the quirky development, until you get actually progressively dragged into black humor, and darker and darker waters.
I really enjoyed how the author managed to trick me and play with my expectations.
The smooth translation certainly did a lot to manage that.
Because little by little, you get to know that Reseng obeys orders from higher up, a group called the Plotters. Who are they exactly? And what are they up to? And when he starts interpreting his orders in his own ways, all hell breaks loose.
Plotters hated it when lowly assassins took it upon themselves to change the plot…
Changing the assigned plot was not just a headache but a potential death sentence.
The book is rich with unforgettable characters, especially:
- Reseng himself, born in unusual circumstances;
- his cantankerous facilitator Old Racoon, whose crime headquarters are set in a mysterious Library (with a cross-eyed female librarian);
- his friend Bear, who runs a pet (officially…) crematorium;
- a strange convenience store clerk and her wheelchair-bound sister;
- and a barber.
- And of course, there are cats!
There are interesting passages on famous books and on what reading can do in your life. Funny, I’m actually reading Don Quixote right now, and realize this sentence can equally apply to both works.
There are also eye-opening scenes on industrial work in South Korea.
The official synopsis says this is set in an alternate Seoul. I don’t know for sure about Seoul, but there are unfortunately organized groups of paid assassins out there, some even official, as featured in Hear Our Defeats, that I reviewed recently. In The Plotters, this is actually a market with a lot of competition.
VERDICT: Both dark and hilarious Korean thriller featuring a unique group of “Mafiosi”. Quirky, irresistible.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
What’s your favorite Korean novel/author?
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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through Netgalley. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.