Review

Heart of the Assassin

by Robert Ferrigno

If you are not familiar with the first two books in Robert
Ferrigno’s bold, groundbreaking Assassin trilogy, I
would suggest that you read PRAYERS FOR THE ASSASSIN and SINS OF
THE ASSASSIN before picking up HEART OF THE ASSASSIN. Although this
final installment stands incredibly well on its own, you’ll
want to read the series in order to fully appreciate
Ferrigno’s achievement, which is to write a no-so-distant
future history that is sharply and frighteningly defined while
being well-populated by unforgettable characters, likable and
otherwise.

What Ferrigno has done is to visualize what is currently known
as the United States as it may well exist before the halfway point
of the 21st century. The east, west and north coasts are in the
thrall of the moderate Islamic Republic, in which Washington, D.C.,
Detroit, Chicago and New York City (among others) are totally
destroyed or abandoned. The southern states have unified under
Christian rule as the Bible Belt; radical Islamists control
California; and the western states have been seized by the
Aztlán Empire, the nation formerly known as Mexico. There is
an independent state here and there, but I’m sure you get the
idea of what things look like.

As HEART OF THE ASSASSIN commences, it is evident to the
governments of both the Bible Belt and the Islamic Republic that
the divorce of the United States’ most populated and powerful
sections is not working. Aztlán, hungry for territory and
smarting from past defeats, threatens from the South; Canada seeks
territory in the North; and Europe and Asia hover like carrion,
hoping to pick off what pieces they can. The rumored discovery
of a legendary religious and political icon in the radioactive
ruins of Washington, D.C. provides the Republic and the Belt with
the opportunity to peacefully reunite. Rakkim Epps, a genetically
enhanced warrior who figured so prominently in the first two
volumes, is dispatched to Washington to reclaim the icon, if in
fact it actually exists. He is not unopposed, however. The Old One,
an Islamist who has been manipulating some events and taking
advantage of others since the early years of the 20th century,
wants to reunite America as well, but under fundamentalist Islamist
rule.

As HEART OF THE ASSASSIN progresses, the Old One finds that he
is at long last nearing the end of his life, even as he plans one
last masterful stroke to bring his plans to completion. He is aided
by his daughter Baby, whose beauty is matched with a dangerous
cunning and political savvy, and the ever-dangerous Lester
Gravenholtz, a seemingly indestructible assassin who was almost
murdered by Rakkim and who seeks revenge against him. Rakkim finds
his considerable skills tested to the limit as he searches for a
treasure whose existence may be the only hope for the future of the
United States, even as powerful and maniacal forces are set against
him, not only from outside the Republic but also from within.

From an unforgettably modified Golden Gate Bridge to the
heartbreaking ruins of Washington, D.C. and the 24/7 parties of
Miami in Nueva Florida, Ferrigno utilizes action, mystery, grim
humor, speculation and violence to tell a story that seems so real
you will swear you see your own reflection in the eyes of the
individual characters as you read about them. Every time you blink
will seem like a waste of time, a distraction from the impulse to
read as quickly and thoroughly as you can, in order to devour this
nightmarish, provocative and prescient feast for the heart and
mind. HEART OF THE ASSASSIN succeeds as a travelogue,
entertainment, noir thriller, speculative work, and --- perhaps
most of all ---  a cautionary tale of events that are
unfolding right at this moment. It is a work that 50 years from now
will be hailed as a classic, or banned, or, more than likely, both.
Read it now while you still can.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Heart of the Assassin
by Robert Ferrigno

  • Publication Date: August 31, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • ISBN-10: 1416537724
  • ISBN-13: 9781416537724