The man who called himself Mr. Greene was purposeful, deliberate, and very, very cold. He had no difficulty getting into the newspaper’s garage and putting the device into the gray Honda belonging to investigative reporter Judith Lyles. Then it was just a matter of following her onto the highway and waiting for the right moment to trigger the explosion.

Judith’s husband, John Pavlak, became a college athletic director rather than join his wealthy father’s business. He is determined to be his own man. Although he and Judith separated and planned to divorce, John is devastated by Judith’s death and stunned when it turns out their four year-old daughter died with her. A decorated veteran, he’s not the sort of man to wait for the police to bring him answers, especially since he’s a suspect himself.

Assuming Judith’s murder was related to her job, John finds she was working on a story about Germany and lingering cold-war secrets. One step ahead of the police, he flees to Berlin. Determined to find out why his family was killed and, if possible, avenge them, he has entered a maze of secrets with a terrible truth at its heart.

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Publication Date: April 2005


“The repercussions of long-suppressed high-level government Cold War chicanery drive this virtually seamless debut action thriller … With more twists than an English maze, the trail leads to … an astonishing and satisfying denouement.”

- Publishers Weekly Forecast


“Corriher’s spycraft is authoritative; his settings (Charlotte, Berlin, Crete) specific; his main character sympathetic; and his subplots substantial … the pursuit of those answers is a front-seat ride … There’s great pleasure in rooting for Pavlak, an emotionally handicapped Special Forces vet going up against professional spies, which he must do once he finds a connection between his wife’s death and her discovery of papers relating to the sale of U.S. weapons to the Soviet Bloc. SOMEONE TO KILL adds surprising depth to this framework … In a world of super-neat heroics, SOMEONE TO KILL offers non-vulgar, gritty, high wire realism…”

- Asheville Citizen-Times [Rob Neufeld]


“Corriher is a good storyteller. The plot moves along, with plenty of fisticuffs and spycraft but more heart than you might expect in a spy novel.”

- Charlotte Observer


“As he seeks answers in the rabbit-hole world of espionage, Pavlak faces death, deals out death, faces a painful family legacy and deals out a little more death. It’s exciting stuff … And the pacing is fresh. Corriher writes like he’s stoking the furnace of a steam-powered train, always adding fuel to the fire. In goes a new character, in goes a shootout, in goes a betrayal, in goes a musing on ethical journalism and in goes a fairly played clue to the killer’s identity that you’ll kick yourself for missing. It all drives the novel along on a thrilling and original journey you’d be advised to take.”

- Macon Telegraph


“From the first page, SOMEONE TO KILL rivets the reader. “He called himself Mr. Greene,” the story begins. And he is carrying an attache case into a Charlotte parking garage where he will soon place a bomb in someone’s car.

The target and time of the blast become evident very soon, in gripping fashion. But it takes almost all of this novel’s 496 pages to get to the why of this murder. And all 496 pages fly by. Credit writer Kurt Corriher with turning out a snappy, can’t-put-it-down thriller that is remarkable … the novel speeds along like white lightning, fueled by protagonist John Pavlak’s anger and his quest for the truth…

Pavlak makes a fascinating protagonist, flawed by his anger but pure in his desire to solve this murder. He is a man of contradictions, at some points steely in his logic, at others berserk and foolhardy in his reactions. His daughter’s death has absolutely enraged him. Will he stay on the razor-thin edge of reason, or slip and do himself harm? You’ll have to read the book to find out … Karin’s status as a soon-to-be nun is a quirky element again, somewhere between fairy tale and brilliant plot development. But toward the story’s end, especially, she helps bring in a religious element that sets this book apart. There are no cheap shots or cliches here. Corriher has written a thinking person’s thriller.”

- Salisbury Post [Elizabeth Cook]


“…begins with a memorable and chilling scene … Pavlak is an unusual kind of hero for a spy thriller … He is skilled with weapons and hand-to-hand combat, knowledgeable about international intrigue, and capable of thinking on his feet. As the action of the novel intensifies, he seems almost able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. But author Kurt Corriher is smart enough to keep his hero earthbound in some respects. Pavlak is also arrogant, headstrong and rude … just the sort of loose wheel who might be able to pry loose Cold War secrets from what remains of the ‘Old Spies Network’ in Europe … [Corriher] never lets the pace flag … SOMEONE TO KILL is more than a little reminiscent of the novels of that master of contemporary suspense, Jeffrey Deaver, in its abrasive protagonist, its multiple subplots, its technological background and its brilliant and mysterious criminals.”

- Southern Pines Pilot


“This is a remarkable first novel. It stands out in a genre that is packed with writers who can keep readers turning their pages…”

- Winston-Salem Journal, [John D. Gates]


“…a thriller that takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride from the Old North State to a world of espionage, deceit, and past war intrigue. It’s a ride well worth taking.”

- Our State


“SOMEONE TO KILL is fast-paced and involving, with believable characters and a big canvas. Write me another, Mr. Corriher.”

- Barbara D’Amato


“An unrelenting tale that achieves fast-paced spellbinding intrigue. Crisply told with a labyrinth of plot twists that speed you to a climactic ending.”

- Clive Cussler


“Corriher’s story drew me in; his people held me tight. His settings convince and he’s suspiciously accurate at intelligence tradecraft. If this is his idea of a first novel, the rest of us should be plotting against him! I suspect it’s already too late…”

- Dean Ing


“SOMEONE TO KILL is a twisty, turny terror ride into a world of shadows and subterfuge. Kurt Corriher’s first novel reads like a high-octane throwback to such classic thrillers as Frederick Forsyth’s THE ODESSA FILE and Robert Ludlum’s THE HOLCROFT COVENANT, as it plunges hero John Pavlak into an emotional free fall that will bring him face-to-face with the demons of his own past. Wide in scope, colorful in setting, and tragic in implication, SOMEONE TO KILL goes for the gut and scores a dead center hit.”

- Jon Land


Penzler Pick: First-time novelist Kurt Corriher makes his debut with a theme that’s hard to beat when it comes to offering satisfying suspense: revenge for a ghastly crime that is not just wantonly committed, but that may have been commissioned by shadowy forces close to home.

John Pavlak’s wife, Judith, from whom he’s recently been separated, and his 4-year-old daughter, Tasha, are blown up in their car one windy March morning by a professional assassin. Judith was an investigative reporter who’d made enemies over the years and might therefore have been a target for violence. But Tasha’s presence on the seat next to her mother, when she was meant to be securely tucked up at her daycare center, could not possibly have been planned.

Pavlak, once a highly decorated member of the Special Forces in Vietnam and now the pacific director of athletics for a small North Carolina college, is suddenly a broken man. All that holds him together is the desire to find whoever is responsible for Judith’s and Tasha’s deaths and then … what?

Not surprisingly, he’s feeling murderous himself, and he has more than enough arrogance and anger, plus the necessary professional skills, to ensure that the FBI and the CIA both now involved must try to stop him the moment he crosses any line leading him too close to the secrets they’re protecting.

What’s more, Pavlak has sufficient money to indulge himself in his grief-fueled quest, even as it takes him across Europe and home again. He is the child of autocratic industrialist Gustav Pavlak, a man whose wealth and influence he has long sought to avoid, a man whose regard for his older son is hidden behind a screen of relentless scorn.

SOMEONE TO KILL unfolds at a believable pace, with its characters behaving as real people might if real people were to be plunked down in the midst of such scorching melodrama. John Pavlak is no superhero, though he’s a credible one. Facing down an array of both familiar and unfamiliar demons as believable as he is, Pavlak is a protagonist whose raw determination drips off nearly every page.

- – Editorial Review by Otto Penzler