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Like the middle volume in any trilogy or extended series, Sins of the Assassin aggravates by leaving plot threads hanging, but Robert Ferrigno impresses once again with the distinct impression that he thought out the parameters and details of the Islamic Republic of America before he ever put pen to paper (fingertip to keyboard?). This installment finds Rakkim Epps--the titular assassin--on a mission to the rump Bible Belt to try and find a potential doomsday weapon before a ruthless anti-Muslim warlord, the Colonel, gets ahold of it. He's accompanied by Leo, a pudgy teen who's been enhanced to the point of being a human supercomputer. But in the Belt, he has to pretend to be an idiot savant, just as Rikki has to pass for Christian. Once they're there, old friends who helped Rikki when last he infiltrated the region will be in mortal danger and the unlikely pair of heroes will have to contend with the Colonel's genetically enhanced henchman, Gravenholtz, and sultry but vicious young wife, Baby. All the while, Epps is having episodes that suggest that the killer he took down in Book One, the sadistic Darwin, forged some kind of mental link with him before he died.

Mr. Ferrigno is an acknowledged master of the thriller and he easily keeps the action driving forward and all the plates spinning. There does appear to be a texture here that can only come when an author has imagined what is going on outside the pages of his story in the rest of the world he's created. When the writer fails to do this the book tends to have a kind of Potemkin Village feel to it. We just know that there's nothing behind the scenery on stage. But when an author succeeds--as no one ever did moreso than J.R.R. Tolkien in Middle Earth--he smooths the path for our suspension of disbelief. Mr. Ferrigno succeeds.

One other thing I noticed is that as your reading you can spot the places where the discrete tasks in a video game version of the story would go. That may just be because I've got boys of an age to play such games or it may be that Mr. Ferrigno has been influenced by the game culture. Or it could just be that this sort of quest tale is ideally suited to gaming. Whichever is the case, one hopes some software company takes note.

In the meantime, we'll be eagerly anticipating the final volume in this compelling trilogy.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Robert Ferrigno (3 books reviewed)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Robert Ferrigno Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Crime Pays: Author Robert Ferrigno
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Heart of the Assassin
    -BOOK SITE: Heart of the Assassin (Simon & Schuster)
    -Robert's Blog
    -BOOK SITE: Republic World News: Breaking News for the Islamic States of America
    -ESSAY: Missing Rush Limbaugh: A look ahead (Robert Ferrigno, 4/16/08, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Step 1: Write book; Step 2: Suffer (Robert Ferrigno, April 3, 2005, DC Examiner)
    -INTERVIEW: One nation, under Allah: an interview with Robert Ferrigno: Orrin Judd interviews Robert Ferrigno, author of Prayers for the Assassin, a novel about the near future which posits a world where much of the United States has become an Islamic state (Orrin C. Judd, 3/20/06, Enter Stage Right)
    -PROFILE: The Islamic States of America (Henry Schuster, February 22, 2006, CNN)
    -INTERVIEW: Your Wake-Up Call: Read Ferrigno (Q&A by John J. Miller, 8/03/04, National Review)
    -INTERVIEW: Robert Ferrigno interview (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)
    -INTERVIEW: A Conversation With Robert Ferrigno (Interview by Pantheon Staff)
    -INTERVIEW: Local author's latest thriller pits Samaritan against L.A.'s dark side (Adam Woog, 1/21/03, The Seattle Times)
    -PROFILE: Introducing Robert Ferrigno: Richard Shephard investigates the novels of crime writer Robert Ferrigno (Richard Shepard,
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Robert Ferrigno (Eye on Books)
    -INTERVIEW: Robert Ferrigno (Mystery Ink, 10/19/01)
    -INTERVIEW: The Thrill is On: with Robert Ferrigno (J. Kingston Pierce, July 1999, January Magazine)
    -PROFILE: Eastside writer shows he's a player in the twisted world of tales noir (JOHN MARSHALL, June 24, 1999, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)
    -ESSAY: Ferrigno of Nonsense (Bartholomew's notes on religion)
    -ARCHIVES "robert ferrigno" (Find Articles)
    Assassin's Trilogy: Life and death in the Islamic Republic of America (Joel Schwartz, May 26, 2008, Weekly Standard)
    Just to be clear, folks, it's a novel: There's an emerging sub-genre of Islamotopian fiction, and it's not my fault (MARK STEYN | May 28, 2008, Maclean's)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (JANET MASLIN, 2/16/06, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (Mark Steyn, Maclean's)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (David J. Montgomery, Philadelphia Inquirer)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (BRUCE TIERNEY, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (Chris Cronin, American Dissent Radio)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (Adam Woog, The Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (David Schraub, The Debate Link)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (James Flint, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Prayers for the Assassin (John J. Miller, National Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Horse Latitudes by Robert Ferrigno (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Horse Latitudes (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Horse Latitudes (Margaret Carlson, TIME)
    -REVIEW: of The Cheshire Moon by Robert Ferrigno (Michael Anderson, NY Times Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Cheshire Moon (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Dead Man's Dance by Robert Ferrigno (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dead Man's Dance (Mary A. Kane, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
    -REVIEW: of Dead Silent by Robert Ferrigno (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Heartbreaker by Robert Ferrigno (Scott Veale, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Heartbreaker (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Heartbreaker (Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of Flinch by Robert Ferrigno (David J. Montgomery, Mystery Ink)
    -REVIEW: of Flinch (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of Flinch (Chris Petit, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Scavenger Hunt (J. Kingston Pierce, Seattle Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Scavenger Hunt by Robert Ferrigno (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Scavenger Hunt (J. Kingston Pierce, January Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Scavenger Hunt (Chris Petit, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up by Robert Ferrigno (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up (davidthayer, Collected Miscellany)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up (Carlo Wolff, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up (BRUCE TIERNEY, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of The Wake-Up (KEN WHITE, Las Vegas REVIEW-JOURNAL) -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin: Orwell’s Grandchildren (David Forsmark, 9/14/09,
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Mark Steyn, Macleans)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (David Forsmark, FrontPage)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (Fionnchú, Blogtrotter)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (David J. Montgomery, Daily Beast)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Assassin (Jagmohan Singh Khurmi , Islam Watch)

Book-related and General Links: