Review

The Assassin

by Stephen Coonts

It has been far too long since we've been blessed with a novel
from Stephen Coonts. The arrival of THE ASSASSIN not only heralds
that the wait is over but also decrees that it was well worth it.
Coonts, keeping everyone happy, brings both Tommy Carmellini and
Admiral Jake Grafton back, and throws in Abu Qasim, their most
deadly nemesis, for a showdown with the ultimate prize at
stake.

Readers of his previous work, THE TRAITOR, will recall that Qasim,
a cunning al-Qaeda leader, barely escaped with his life at the
conclusion of that novel. The premise of THE ASSASSIN is that a
small group of private citizens --- influential and wealthy
captains of industry and politics --- decide it is time that Qasim
and his circle of influence be taken off the board once and for
all, and put their might and majesty behind a plan to do just that.
The President of the United States gives an invisible blessing to
the plan, placing Jake Grafton at their disposal. Grafton in turn
sets Carmellini loose, an act that ultimately puts him into contact
with Marisa Petrou, a seductive Frenchwoman of Carmellini's
intimate acquaintance who may or may not be Qasim's daughter.

All initially goes well, until members of the cadre behind the hunt
for Qasim are murdered, one by one. It becomes obvious that there
is a traitor in their midst. But who could it be? Grafton and
Carmellini have to find out, and quickly, for they soon learn not
only that are they on the list but that the President of the United
States is as well. Qasim is every bit the equal of Grafton and
Carmellini; he is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature who is as
calculating and cunning as any adversary who they have ever faced,
either singly or together. Qasim, who always seems to be at least
two moves ahead of his adversaries, appears ready to achieve all of
his goals as THE ASSASSIN approaches a conclusion that will
challenge your ability to turn pages fast enough to keep up with
your reading.

Coonts shows absolutely no sign of slowing down in the interim
since his last novel. Balancing the action between Carmellini and
Grafton is a brilliant strategy --- Grafton is far too good a
character to stay in the background for long --- and, although
Carmellini does the heavy lifting consistent with his youth, it is
Grafton's age and guile that carries the day here. His excellent
characterization, however, takes second chair to his masterful
plotting and pacing, not to mention the surprises that he lobs at
the reader, all the way to the end of the book, and beyond.

From its inception Coonts's work has been infused with a real-world
sensibility --- AMERICA was so prophetic that when the events
described therein actually occurred, I had to read it over again
--- and THE ASSASSIN continues that bold tradition. If you want a
strong dose of reality with your fiction, then Coonts and Grafton
are what you're looking for.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 5, 2011

The Assassin
by Stephen Coonts

  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312323573
  • ISBN-13: 9780312323578