I love a good book. I mean, I really, really love a good book!
My favorite feeling is when you find a book that is so good, that grabs you so tightly and doesn’t let go, you just can’t put it down. I often celebrate that feeling by embracing it and staying up all night to finish the story. It’s become somewhat of a ritual for me, yet it only happens a few times a year.
This year alone, I’ve pulled all-nighters on Kyle Mills’ The Survivor, Brad Thor’s Code of Conduct, Paul Cleave’s Trust No One, and Ted Bell’s Patriot. So, last night when I put on a pot of coffee at three in the morning, I knew The Assassins by Gayle Lynds was something special.
I filled my mug to brim with piping hot coffee, and then lost myself in Lynds’ incredible story of espionage, intrigue, and nonstop action. It was the perfect end to 2015, a year that’s been nothing short of amazing for fans of thrillers.
Thankfully, I’d saved one of the years very best for last.
Return to the Genre
Before The Assassins, Gayle Lynds’ last published novel was The Book of Spies, which came out in 2010. During her five year absence, the genre has missed her.
Before stepping away from publishing due to health reasons Lynds, who has been praised by some of the biggest authors in the thriller genre, and received her fair share of prestigious awards, especially for her earlier work, was widely regarded as one of the best spy-thriller authors alive.
Now Gayle is back with a new book, and she’s once again proven why her name belongs at the very top of the genre with other legends such as Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Kyle Mills and James Patterson.
The Assassins opens on the darkened streets of Baghdad, back in 2003. Six of the world’s best, most well trained, and effective killers make their way across the dangerous streets using the darkness of the night to conceal them. Moving in the shadows, the assassins travel to a museum for a rendezvous with an Afghani general.
Originally, the team of assassins was assembled to complete “assignments” for Saddam Hussein, which they did perfectly. However, they were still owed a significant portion of money from Saddam, whose regime had recently been toppled by the Americans.
So there they were, covertly navigating the streets to rightfully take what was theirs before it was gone for good.
Once in the museum, the general led them to a safe. Inside the safe was a tablet made of limestone worth an estimated $12 million, which was nearly the amount still owed to them.
Taking the ancient artifact, the team began to exit the museum when, suddenly, everything went wrong. Shots rang out as bullet casings rained down on their location, some of them finding the flesh of the assassins.
Half of the team was injured, but they kept fighting. They made their way to the street where their leader, Burleigh Morgan, was critically shot in the back. Morgan hit the ground, dropping the tablet, which shattered on impact.
Months later, having nearly recovered from his injuries, Morgan reached out to his five teammates. He requested they all send him their potions of the tablet, which they’d each taken off the street in Baghdad, so he could have it reassembled and appraised.
Ultimately, a deal between all of the team members could not be reached. The ancient tablet was never sold.
Morgan went on with his life and years later, now in his seventies, was finally happy. He had a wonderful gal, and was enjoying the warmth of a fireplace in Paris when an anonymous email detailing the names of his fellow assassins changed everything. Someone knew far too much, but how?
Back in Washington, Judd Ryder, a former spy, returned home from an assignment in Baghdad one day early. Upon his arrival, he watched a man exit his home wearing his clothes. The man, who looked strikingly similar to Judd, was rundown by someone on snowmobile and killed right in front of Ryder.
Judd soon realized that the dead man was pretending to be him while he was away on assignment. On him, the double carried a fake ID with Ryder’s name on it. The impostor had picked up Judd’s dry cleaning, stayed in his home, and even made his way to the grocery store around the same time Judd typically did.
Many questions suddenly filled Judd’s head, but one in particular bothered him the most. Did the man on the snowmobile intend to kill the double, or did he intent – and believe he had successfully killed – Judd Ryder?
The two story lines are intertwined masterfully, connected by a killer called the Carnivore – a legend among assassins. He’s the perfect bad guy for such a story, and Lynds does a fantastic job fleshing out her characters.
What I loved
This story has it all. Suspense, action, and an old-school spy vibe that newer authors just can’t replicate. Lynds keeps the reader guessing until the final page, which will satisfy even the pickiest of readers.
One of my favorite things about the book was the pacing of the story, which makes words like fast and blazing seem obsolete. Lynds utilizes short chapters, which I personally love, making it infinitely harder to put the book down.
In fact, if you’re able to set The Assassins down and walk away, I question whether you’re a fan of thrillers. It’s that good.
Another thing worth noting is the fun, brilliantly written dialogue between the assassins. Specifically the banter between two of the teammates, a former Jihadist, and a retired member of the Israeli Mossad, which is a real strong point early in the novel.
I could go on and on detailing things I loved about this book, but I don’t want to spoil it or give anything away. Instead, I’ll just suggest everyone grab a copy of The Assassins and read it for themselves.
Why You Should Read It
In a genre that’s dominated by men, Gayle Lynds packs a mean punch – and she throws it with the kind of expert precision that is bound to make other authors jealous.
Simply put, this isn’t just one of the true must-read novels of 2015, it’s one of the few books I plan to read over and over again for many years to come.
Forget Game of Thrones, this is a game of spies, and it rocks from beginning to end!
Order The Assassins from Amazon today!
Author: Gayle Lynds
Pages: 416 (hardcover)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 30, 2015. AVAILABLE NOW!
For more information about Gayle Lynds, visit her website by clicking here.