A Book Spy Review: ‘Assassin’s Run’ by Ward Larsen

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Assassins RunLegendary Israeli assassin David Slaton returns for his most explosive mission yet in Ward Larsen’s (Cutting Edge, 2018, etc.) Assassin’s Run

About to sit down and celebrate the kicking off of one of the most ambitious plans of his career, Pyotr Ivanovic, a high-profile Russian oligarch who’s known for being close with Russian President Petrov, anxiously prepares to dine on his thirty-ounce, grain-fed beef that was flown in from Australia and seared perfectly by his chef. Looking out the starboard window, Ivanovic took in the beautiful scenery and soaked up the moonlit Tyrrhenian river, where Cassandra, his beloved yacht, bobbed up and down. A moment later, a large caliber, supersonic round exploded into his chest, throwing him violently over the railing. He was dead before he hit the water.

Four days later, while hiding out in the Italian township of Vieste, David Slaton is paid a visit by a woman with the CIA. Anna Sorenson informs Slaton that the Russians aren’t taking Ivanovic’s murder lightly and theorizes that their unusually high degree of interest in the man’s death indicates that he might have been involved in an important operation. According to FSB intercepts, the Russians are keying in on their number one suspect — a former Mossad agent who was thought to have been killed in England several years ago: Slaton. 

David realizes he has a serious problem because the evidence doesn’t look good. Not only is he a notorious assassin, but as fate would have it, he was near the location of the oligarch’s death onboard his own boat, Windsom. The truth is that he’s totally innocent, but the truth doesn’t matter now that the Russians are searching for him, so Slaton makes peace with running again, still determined to leave his old life behind and continue trying to forge a new one with his family. Then Sorenson sweetens the pot. 

The CIA, it turns out, is intrigued with using Slaton to figure out why exactly President Petrov is so personally invested in the investigation into Ivanovic’s death. If he’s willing to play ball with them, they offer to help him disappear, and stay hidden, in the future. 

With no better option on the table, Slaton once again reluctantly dusts off his H&K, still worn in the grip from a long career of killing bad men, and heads first to Capri, and then Rome, in search of two things: why the Russians think he killed Ivanovic, and what the man did to get himself killed in the first place.

As the plot unwinds, Larsen introduces a deadly conspiracy that changes the game entirely, and it’s up to David Slaton to make sense of everything. . . and then stop it. . . before it’s too late. 

Now five books in, Larsen’s series is often compared to Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon franchise, which makes some sense because both Slaton and Allon are famous Israeli spies/assassins. Additionally, both authors have their heroes going up against Russia this year, but beyond that, their works are very different. Slaton is more of an Israeli Jason Bourne when you get into their skill sets and what makes them tick. And as far as writing style (pacing and how they structure action sequences), Ward Larsen is more in line with Ben Coes or Mark Greaney. 

Assassin’s Run is another very solid thriller from Ward Larsen, and David Slaton remains one of the thriller genre’s most underrated protagonists. If you’re looking for nonstop action and a smartly-written plot, Larsen’s latest has that and then some. 

Book Details

Author: Ward Larsen 
Series: David Slaton #5
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0765391503
Publisher: Forge Books 
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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