Richard Lacayo picks Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Greene's 1938 novel was his first masterpiece, the story of a killer who has perfected his game at 17. Pinkie Brown, a hood in the resort town of Brighton, is so good at what he does because he's so dead inside. Even the waitress who adores him is subject to his lethal self-interest. But this is Greene-land, where God's will matters, so they'll both bear witness to the "appalling strangeness" of his mercy.