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

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Assassins RevengeEx-Mossad agent David Slaton just wants to live a quiet, peaceful life. Instead, that proves impossible, though not for a lack of trying. Multiple times now, former colleges, friends, and even some foes have strongarmed the former assassin to shake off retirement, pick up his gun, and return to action. 

This time around, it’s Slaton’s worst-case scenario that draws him back into the fold when he returns back to the Gibraltar marina where he’d docked Sirius, his live-in sailboat, and finds it missing. Eventually, he locates it floating more than a mile from shore, but his wife and son aren’t onboard—a revelation that stirs a bit of panic inside the usually calm and collected operator. His fears of foul play are quickly confirmed when he receives a message instructing him to take out a target if he ever wants to see his family again.

For Slaton, it all makes sense, at least from a job perspective. State assassinations are a touchy business, and who better to hire than a former killer who is believed to be dead by most everyone—and who knows a thing or two about slipping off the grid and keeping his mouth shut—to have pull the trigger? Plus, given he’s a man with no country or anything tying him down, apart from his family, he’s not only especially lethal, he’s also expendable. Except that, for Slaton, things aren’t that cut and dry. Preferring to stay alive and live out whatever time he has left with his family, he’s determined to do whatever it takes to get them back. 

His target is a man named Paul Mordechai, a former special assistant to Israeli’s minister of energy who then went to work for the Mossad. There, he fell out of favor with his bosses after attempting to highlight cyber weaknesses within Israel’s vaunted foreign intelligence service by first exposing them through rather controversial means. Following his fall from good standing, Mordechai was subsequently transferred to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But as David soon learns, Mordechai ended up uncovering another conspiracy—one that suggests the North Korean government may be working with top ISIS officials to help the terror group reclaim their fame by striking a mighty blow to the West. And just like that, Slaton finds himself smack-dab in the middle of another international crisis where the stakes—both professionally and personally—couldn’t possibly be any higher . . .

Ward Larsen is a fine writer who knows a thing or two about pacing, always structuring his stuff in a way that pulls readers onward, while never presenting a dull moment to comfortably set the book down and walk away. Likewise, his action sequences are terrific, and his plot, which is fairly complicated with several moving conflicts, is easy to follow.

The one area readers may soon feel fatigued, though, is the constant need to find ways to pull the hero back into the life he wants to leave behind. Daniel Silva, who by all accounts is the gold standard and maybe the best spy novelist alive not named John le Carre, faced a similar problem years back when his protagionist, Gabriel Allon, also found himself unsuccessfully trying to leave the Mossad behind. After several books of that, it’s easy to lose interest in the hero who no longer wants to save the day—and while Silva found a creative solution for his franchise, that may be the number one issue Larsen faces with David Slaton moving forward. All that said, the setup works for this book, and Larsen utilizes a solid twist to freshen things up before settling in and delivering another heart-pumping thriller that’s on par with A.J. Tata, Sean Parnell, and Stephen Coonts.

Book Details

Author: Ward Larsen
Series: David Slaton #6 
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0765391538
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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