The prologue for THE ASSASSINS begins with a bang. Two years into the future, or in October 2007, terrorists from Iran fly their jets and hydrofoils into the oilfields in Saudi Arabia. Suddenly the largest oil-producing country for the United States has no oil because of the martyrs. At almost exactly the same time, the extensive Saudi Royal family scattered around the world is assassinated. These two events set off a worldwide calamity.
Readers of the first two books in this trilogy, MISSION COMPROMISED and THE JERICHO SANCTION, will encounter retired KGB General Dimitri Komulakov, the familiar nemesis who is living in Cuba. In the past, the General's plans were frustrated through the efforts of Peter Newman, who is now a U.S. Marine Brigadier General. Komulakov has made a deal with the Iranians to help them secure nuclear weapons; with these weapons, Komulakov plans to mount a nuclear attack on eleven U.S. cities. Because of the destruction of the Saudi rulers and the oilfields, a power-hungry Senator James Waggoner pressures the U.S. President to sign an Assassination Bill that allows government officers or agents to carry out any assassination they believe is necessary. This legislation puts the President in a moral dilemma and he's reluctant to sign it.
As Secretary of State Helen Luce tells him, "Mr. President, if you sign this bill, we will forever lose any moral authority we have as a nation."
"Helen, I know. That may well turn out to be true. But if I veto it or don't sign it --- it'll still become law. And in the ensuing fight over the bill we could cease to be a nation."
The President signs the bill and it becomes law.
General George Grisham, who is now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, breaks the news to his friend, Brigadier General Pete Newman, that he's been selected to head The Presidential Commission on Threat Mitigation (the official name for the committee of government-sanctioned assassins).
A multilayer conflict is constructed in the early stages of this fast-paced book. Like the previous novels, the story line switches rapidly from scene to scene. Familiar characters from past books are reintroduced to readers, such as Sergeant Major Amos Skillings and CIA deputy director of operations Bill Goode. A Christian theme is woven into the plot as true believers carry a small metal fish charm, which in the early Church was the sign for believers in Jesus to recognize each other.
Readers will enjoy the back and forth drama in multiple short bursts and the realistic settings and dialogue from the real-life experiences of retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. I believe that this type of book, with its short sections, is ideal to read if you have limited time. To help the reader keep up with all the military alphabet soup scattered throughout the story and dialogue, thankfully a glossary is provided.
THE ASSASSINS is plausible and ripped from today's headlines, yet it is set in the near future. Key characters from the book have a faith and trust in God that sustains them throughout the circumstances of the day. I highly recommend this complex yet page-turning novel.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on October 1, 2005