David Diegert, the latest highly-trained protagonist in the vein of Mark Greaney’s the Gray Man, explodes on the scene in this page-turning thriller from Bill Brewer.
Some people kill out of anger, while others do so out of self-defense. And then there are those who kill for the money. David, for all his flaws and issues, is somewhere in the middle of all three—though he never enjoys taking a life.
After being dishonorably discharged from the military for crimes he didn’t commit, David tries a number of odd jobs to fill his time and keep some form of income. Nothing works, though, until his job as a bouncer at a club results in him rubbing elbows with a Russia mobster who hires David to rough up a rival banger. The target, who David beat but left alive, is later found dead—with Diegert becoming the number one suspect, forcing him to live off the grid and wait for the heat to pass over.
Instead, David winds up running in the wrong circles and ends up exposed to a John Wick-like underworld of trained assassins—a world he hates, but soon thrives in after he is forced to kill a number of people for various reasons of self-defense. From there, he’s recruited to join an elite program, but in order to be accepted, he must enter and win a tournament where all the other contestants are assassins too—creating a kill or be killed ultimatum that’ll change David’s life forever, or end it once and for all . . .
Where Brewer’s book is unique is that it follows one’s journey from regular man to cut-throat killer, chronicling the events that lead to such a dangerous lifestyle in a way that’s rarely touched on by other writers. Normally, by the time we meet up with Court Gentry or Evan Smoak, they’re already dangerous operators with years of experience. Sure, we’ve seen prequels from time-to-time (like Vince Flynn’s American Assassin), but even then, those stories tend to focus on characters who are being trained for various government agencies. Here, David is forced to enter a life he doesn’t want, even though he’s good at it—creating a moral conundrum that helps drive the narrative.
Another area Brewer shines is with pacing, constantly pulling readers from chapter to chapter, ramping up the tension and action as the story unfolds. While the overall feel tilts more towards a crime thriller vibe at some points, fans of nonstop action will enjoy this one—and fans of Greaney and Hurwitz won’t want to miss the birth of a solid new hero who flashes breakout potential.
All in all, Dawn of the Assassin has the goods . . . and Bill Brewer is a writer worth keeping an eye on moving into 2020.
Author: Bill Brewer
Pages: 250 (Paperback)
Publisher: Melange Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10
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.