Tom Wood kicks off his latest thriller with a bang, literally.
Set in Central America, Wood opens his eighth thriller with Victor the Assassin — now officially a gun-for-hire, having ended all previous relationships with the MI6 and CIA — in Guatemala for a gun purchase that ends up being a shakedown. The price of the Accuracy International AX50 seems almost too good to be true, because it is. The rifle, it turns out, is little more than bait used to lure customers into the killzone, where a group of gunmen waits, having carefully orchestrated their assault.
It’s a plan that has worked numerous times already, but then again, they’ve never encountered someone like Victor before. Lead flies early and Wood treats readers to a great action sequence as Victor is backed into an impossible corner before the story jumps back in time five weeks to explain the lead-up to the hard-hitting opening.
For several years, two sisters — Heloise and Maria Espinosa — have fought to regain the turf their father, once the leader of Guatemala’s largest cartel, held for decades. The catch, though, is that they’re battling from opposite sides, locked in a brutal war against one another, each desperate to take the reins moving forward. In an effort to finally claim the throne, Heloise has brought in a ringer in the form of Victor, whom she hires to kill Maria. The job seems straightforward at first, but Victor quickly finds that the feud is worse than he expected, and the already-dangerous job proves more difficult when it becomes clear that there’s another killer after Maria who’s willing to do whatever is necessary to finish the job.
With other forces lurking and threatening to close in without warning, Victor has his work cut out for him . . . and to complete his mission, he’ll first need to navigate his way through an endless stream of betrayal and somehow find a way to stay alive long enough to get the job done.
Wood’s thrilling setup leads to a bloody final act that doesn’t disappoint and shows yet again why this series is one of the best action thriller franchises going today. Among his many strengths, Wood seems to always find a new way to keep his plots fresh, never repeating himself or falling into a formula to structure his stories. Likewise, Wood puts readers in the head of his protagonist better than anyone once the actions starts by breaking down what Victor sees, showing how he takes in the information before him, and why he does what he does. That subtle infusion of his thought process is often riveting and shows just how calculated Victor is, highlighting his ability to stay calm and run scenarios in his head at times when anyone else would be crippled with fear and panic.
Longtime fans of the series will notice a fair bit of character development here, and Wood does show shades of Victor that readers haven’t really seen before. “Vulnerable” might not be the right word, but the author does show moments that humanize his ruthless assassin, making him more relatable than ever before . . . though he’s still an antihero at heart.
Victor the Assassin, the coldest killer operating in the thriller genre today, returns in Kill For Me, the latest twisting, action-packed thriller from Tom Wood, who’s fast becoming mandatory reading for fans of Mark Greaney and Gregg Hurwitz.
Author: Tom Wood
Series: Victor The Assassin #8
Pages: 480 (Paperback)
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
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.