Hour of the Assassin
by Matthew Quirk
This book was my Book of the Month choice for March. I wanted to choose something really different from what I normally read, which was the whole intent behind getting a BOTM subscription. I read the synopsis and the first page of this book, and decided to give it a chance.
It was sold to me as a political thriller where an ex secret service agent is being set up by some of the most powerful people in Washington. Growing up I watched a lot of the show Burn Notice, the movies Bourne Identity, and more recently devoured House of Cards. I knew political thrillers interested me in visual media, but had no idea how they would translate on paper.
I read a few reviews before starting this as a way to hype myself up, and one review in particular said they read this book in one sitting because they simply could not put it down. I have to say, I completely agree.
From the moment we are dropped into the story my heart was racing. Our main character, Nick, now works as a would-be assassin. His job is to find the holes in the elite and powerful’s security systems, and to fake kill them as proof that he got in and go out without anyone noticing. I’m not sure what experience the author has with combat or military experience, but it was clear that Nick knew what he was doing.
This novel had really great pacing. We would jump from heartracing scene, to another point of view with the supposed bad guy. This was something I had not anticipated, but thoroughly enjoyed. I didn’t expect to know who had set Nick up until the very end, but we learn quite early on the source of Nick’s downfall. Somehow, despite this knowledge, I was still thrown for loop after loop. I wasn’t able to anticipate any moves from any of our players. That may be because I’m relatively new to this genre, but I honestly had to put the book down at one point to process a betrayal I did not see coming!
This novel had just the right amount of suspense, stakes, and gore to make it enjoyable for me. There’s definitely a fine line when it comes to being too much or distasteful, but I thought this novel toed that line perfectly. I actually really think my dad would enjoy this book, and I might try convincing him to read it as well.
The only thing I think was lacking was a firmer grasp on the characters. Sure, the motives were evident, but the characters didn’t feel fleshed out enough. I only cared about Nick succeeding because he was the main character, and his untimely death would have brought the story to a halt. I think when there is so much action, manipulation, and so many puzzle pieces, it’s hard to make your audience care for each character, and maybe in this genre that’s besides the point entirely. I don’t think it deterred the reading experience, it was just something I noticed coming from a high fantasy genre, where I fall in love with almost all the characters by the end of each book.
I am more curious now about political thrillers, and want to try a few more in the future to see how they compare. Have you read political thrillers? Do you think this one deserves five stars? Is there a better political thriller out there that I should try next? Let me know!
And enjoy this photo of my pup, who is absolutely thrilled by my reading choices.