Launch of Bill Fitzhugh’s THE EXTERMINATORS.

After years of folks asking, begging and whining, Bill Fitzhugh has revisited Bob Dillon, Klaus and the rest of the gang from PEST CONTROL in THE EXTERMINATORS, his latest from Poisoned Pen Press. Bill celebrated the release with a signing at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale AZ on Jan 26th. Bill shared the stage (or podium or whatever a book signing has) with Charlie Newton, whose START SHOOTING has been released to considerable praise.

But this is about Mr Fitzhugh and his nifty new book.

All Bob Dillon ever wanted was a truck with a big fiberglass bug on the roof. All he had to do was survive a half dozen assassination attempts, pull a ten million dollar con on a Bolivian drug lord, and then fall off the face of the earth with his family and his new best friend, Klaus. Six years later, in The Exterminators, they surface in Oregon where they continue Bob’s work creating an all natural means of pest control. But now, instead of cross breeding different strains of assassin bugs, they’re using advanced gene sequencers to consolidate the perfect insect killing traits into one deadly bug. Only one problem: all this serious DNA tampering is expensive and they’re running low on funds. The venture capital outfit that wants to invest turns out to be a front for DARPA (the Department of Defense agency charged with R&D for exotic weapons). It seems the U.S. Government wants to enlist Bob, Klaus, and the bugs in the War on Terror. Oh, and did we mention unlimited funding? An offer too good to refuse, they move to Los Angeles and get to work. Things go swimmingly until that Bolivian drug lord discovers he was conned out of his ten million. Vowing revenge, he offers twenty million to whoever kills Bob and Klaus. Some of the world’s best assassins descend on Hollywood and, before you can say “It’s an honor just to be nominated,” the weirdness level reaches apocalyptic levels. It’s a battle pitting the far right against the far left with Bob stuck in the middle and subjected to some serious post 9/11 thinking.

PEST CONTROL landed on book shelves in 1996 and it was the bad-ass cover that got me to pick it up. Thank goodness I did because it kicks ass. Since then, Bill (all his close pals call him Bill or Fitzy if they have been drinking) has released seven additional books (one of which saw me buried in a shallow grave) and while the they were all fine in their own special way (or ways), PEST CONTROL still held a special place in my heart. I guess I just love genetically bred mutant bugs.

So the obvious question is: Why return to Bob and now?

“For years after the publication of “Pest Control” my agent hounded me to write a sequel. After all, the ending sets one up when Bob and Klaus hear that killer bees have arrived in Southern California. At the time, the idea was to move them to Los Angeles and essentially do the same things there that they did in New York in the first book, i.e., assassins come after them and they use the clichéd dangers of the city to protect themselves while looking for a way out. And while that sounds like the story a Hollywood studio might use to make the film sequel, it wasn’t a book I wanted to write.

Then, a few years after 9/11, I figured out the book I did want to write. It takes the characters (including the insects) and moves them six years ahead into a brave new (post 9/11) world. A lot of things had changed in those six years, but two in particular had the most impact. The first was the fact that scientists had completed mapping the human genome, allowing for genetic engineering (and the creation of some interesting new insects). The second was that the so-called War on Terror (and the creation of some interesting new bad guys, and not necessarily the ones you might think of at first). These two things were all I needed to tie the past to the present.

The con Bob and Klaus pulled in the original story comes back to bite them on the ass, putting them in grave danger. The work they’ve been doing in genetics gets them engaged in a contemporary America, one that has been divided along the lines of ‘you’re either with us or against us.’ This allowed me to use all the elements from “Pest Control” in a completely new story and not only that, but it allowed me to satirize all of my favorite institutions along the way.”

Fans of the first will enjoy THE EXTERMINATORS. The voices of the characters ring true and the tale features all of the vintage Fitzhugh charm.