Assassin’s Curse
by Dafydd While
AuthorHouse UK

"And in their way, assassins are no more or less than the gardeners of the human world."

Debut novelist While takes readers into a shadowy world of assassins and secret agents in an improbable setting—an old library built deep in the picturesque heart of a mountain near Vostok, Russia. Gustav Horst, a German kid from a rich but recently deceased family, is apprenticed to Luciano Boccielli, a former military comrade of his father’s. On his first day in the assassin guild’s training arena, an unnamed narrator describes Gustav’s predicament: “Only the best will advance through this obstacle; the rest will be cut down as if they never existed.” Boccielli reveals that his personal goal is to “destroy authority and bureaucracy from within, killing each authority, one by stinking one.” After two weeks of intensive training with Boccielli and other experts with various skills, Gustav is sent into the outside world to perform his first hit.

The author hooks the reader immediately with his propensity to write articulately with care and enthusiasm, even while maintaining brisk pacing. He occasionally overwrites in his zeal to make scenes vivid to the reader, slowing the pace. However, a compelling noir ambiance adds intrigue to the tale, and the plot is far from formulaic. Likewise, the dialogue occasionally is over-expressed and could be pared down for a more realistic effect. The narrative voice is strong, though, and intimately familiar with the lives of the assassins and their missions. Additionally, the characters are likable and relatable despite (and perhaps because of) their propensity for grit and violence. Aficionados of the thriller or espionage genres should definitely enjoy this work and will want to keep an eye out for a sequel or future novels by the author.

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