KATLA FAQ: Why does Katla prefer sharp implements over firearms?

I received some questions concerning Katla’s preference or inclination toward using sharp implements over firearms. Many readers cite firearms as better killing tools than sharp implements, but there are several reasons why Katla dislikes using firearms as killing tools.
One of these reasons is legal. The Dutch have strict gun control laws, maybe even the most severe in Europe. In the Netherlands, only law enforcement officers and army personnel are allowed to bear small firearms. Some occupations, like game warden, allow a restricted use of occupational firearms, like hunting rifles. That doesn’t mean that civilians aren’t allowed to use firearms, but their use is restricted to recreational or sports, and they are only allowed to transport the guns in a locked case, with the bullets separated from the gun.
Same goes for other weapons, like martial arts practice weapons, that have to be transported in closed bags. Transport of a Japanese sword, for instance, is only allowed if the sageo (cord) secures the blade in the saya (scabbard) and the sheathed sword is carried in one or more bags, to prevent the bearer from quickly drawing the sword. A bokken, or wooden sword, has to be carried in a bag as well. About the only ‘clubs’ that can be carried without the need for concealment, are field hockey sticks. And canes, of course.
Since there have been knife skirmishes where people became seriously hurt, the police will hold ‘preventive searches’ at mobile checkpoints, most often around subway stations, where everyone is scanned with a metal detector and has to empty their pockets. These checkpoints are prevalent at certain areas, mainly around Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein/Thorbeckeplein, Nieuwmarkt, Dam, where the mayor has put a law in effect that restricts possession of anything that can be used as a weapon, not just guns and knives, but also screwdrivers, chisels, chains, hammers, and other tools. Also, regular pocket knives, like the Victorinox ‘Swiss Army’ knife are also prohibited.
So, while getting caught with a firearm is a felony and will get you arrested straight away, possession of a sharp implement will often only result in a fine and seizure of the forbidden implement.
For someone skilled in handling blades, there is no real necessity to carry a machete or kukri blade. Several arteries that are fatal when severed are close enough to the skin to be reached by a blade no longer than the width of a hand. Especially the arteries in the crotch, armpit and neck are vulnerable to a knife attack.
Katla’s assignment often take her up close and personal with her targets. As many professionals will acknowledge, killing someone at arms length is the most difficult and dangerous way to end someone’s life, but it’s also extremely reliable. Any projectile weapon will be less accurate than a handheld blade in the assassin business.
I know that’s a controversial stance to take, and many owners and users of projectile weapons will rally the merits of their weapons, but professional assassins prefer a knife, a garotte or even a rumal* to a gun if they have to kill in close quarters.
Combat/warfare weapons are for the battlefield, not the assassination game. Guns are suitable for shooting your way out of a room full of enemies and an AK-47 is awesome when clearing a building of enemy combatants, but professional assassins are often stealth killers and even a suppressed Ruger Mark II .22 semi-automatic pistol** will make more noise than a well-placed spike dagger.
That’s not to say that projectile weapons are unreliable or inaccurate—any sniper adhering to the ‘one shot, one kill’ principle will protest any such claim—but there are too many people surviving bullet wounds to validate my assertion.
But, what about all the people who survive knife wounds? Of course there are plenty of people who get into altercations with someone wielding a knife and survive the encounter. However, in 99% of these cases, the knife wielder was not out to kill, whereas most people who fire a gun aim to kill. And fail.
Amateurs often favour large caliber handguns that ‘can blow your head straight off’, but there’s a reason why police officers don’t carry Desert Eagles. Heavy and unwieldy guns with absurd recoil don’t make the best guns to kill people. Although they might impress a flock of zombies…
Feel free to comment with your own experience as an assassin to negate my argument…

*Rumal, a silk cord with a coin tied to one end, used by the Thuggee cult of India to whip the cord around a neck and strangle someone.
**Do you want to kill someone silently with a gun? Forget about large calibers. Assassins favour the Ruger Mark II .22 semi-automatic for two reasons: a) the long thin barrel doesn’t need much modification to fit in an ordinary soda bottle that will catch the noise gaseous cloud that follows the bullet out of the barrel, and b), a .22 bullet will have enough penetrative force to get into a skull, but not enough to exit. Which means that the soda bottle will muffle the shot, and the ‘weak’ bullet will careen inside the skull, shredding the brain tissue like whipping a cheesecake with a flogger.


OPINION: Movie Adaptations of Novels and Short Stories.

As someone asked me about my attitude towards movie adaptations of the Amsterdam Assassin Series, I thought about movie adaptations in general, the ones who were superior to the novels, the ones who were equal, and the disappointments.

I’m a huge Philip K. Dick fan, but I do prefer Blade Runner to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. I read Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but the Milos Forman movie adaption cemented Jack Nicholson’s maniacal McMurphy in my mind. I love Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange just as much as the Kubrick movie. The movie The Dead Zone is an improvement on the Stephen King novel, with an excellent Christopher Walken, just as Kubrick’s The Shining is superior to the King novel, but, while the movie is excellent, Shawshank Redemption is slightly less moving than the King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Kick-Ass the movie is slightly more fun than the graphic novel. The Pope of Greenwich Village was much better than the novel by Vincent Patrick. Papillon the movie impressed me more than Papillon the novel. Perfume the movie was pretty good at conveying smell in visual images, but the novel’s prose is superior. Shogun the miniseries is flawed but impressive, but the novel is excellent (although Clavell’s King Rat is a superior novel, with an also excellent movie adaption.

Disappointing to me, as a Philip K. Dick fan, are the movie adaptions of We Can Remember It For You Wholesale [Total Recall] and Paycheck. A Scanner Darkly was pretty good, but not as good as Dick’s story. And Minority Report [movie], while visually impressive, seems only to have tentative connections to the excellent short story by Dick.

Personally, I think that a movie adaption of the Amsterdam Assassin Series would skate over the multi-layered storyline and would become an action/adventure vehicle that would be too superficial to appeal to the readers who love the series intricacies. Plus, I think Katla’s chameleon-like abilities to be eminently forgettable and melt into the background would suffer from being associated with the image of any actress, who prefer to be anything but forgettable.

Comments welcome!