Assassins is the third book in the series about USMC officer Peter Newman, following both Mission Compromised and The Jericho Sanction. This final installment takes now-Brig. General Newman from his cushy job at Homeland Security into the fray once more against his Russian nemesis, Dimitri Komulakov. As a “necessary infidel” hired by the Iranian Mullahs, Komulakov masterminds a sudden and cataclysmic attack against Saudi Arabia which affects the worldwide market and threatens stability inside the USA. In this precarious atmosphere, a morally bankrupt Senior Senator pushes a bill through Congress which puts the US government in the assassination business. As the nation sits paralyzed and idle under a viable nuclear threat from the Mullahs, Newman is tasked with heading the “Threat Mitigation Commission” which actually carries out the requisite assassinations, and is thus placed onto a collision course with Komulakov once more.
I really enjoyed this well-informed, inside look into the policies and hard decisions that Washington lawmakers and White House officials must face anytime American lives are threatened. Because of the extremity of the initial attack against Saudi Arabia in the book, America’s response must be swift and decisive. North thus takes us into the depths of the President’s inner circles and Sit Room meetings. As intricate as those discussions got, I remained fascinated throughout. I even found the bill submitted by Congress to be excellent reading! What’s wrong with me?
I have well enjoyed this series by North, as much for its realism as for its intrigue. There are parts of Brig. Gen. Newman’s resume that appear to be North’s own wish list, and it’s understandable. The fictitious Newman took over for Col. Oliver North following his resignation, meaning he inherited the man’s office, desk, and tasks. I can’t think of a more qualified man to write about such covert missions as Oliver North! I also like how he involves such real-life characters as Fox News’ Shepard Smith and Brett Baier, true colleagues of North at the Network (at least at that time).
North’s faith also plays a large role in his writing, specifically in the network of believers Newman meets all over the world. It’s not clear exactly what Christian denomination North claims, though clues are found in his mystic leanings—a strong relationship with the earliest church, an emphasis on dreams and visions as well as, in this book in particular, hints of numerology.
I find that the North-Musser team has improved a great deal since their first book, which had its shortcomings. I found myself more fascinated by this book than the others, again due in large part to North’s expertise. While I’m a huge fan of author Clive Cussler, I realize that he was just a dude when he first began writing his adventure novels, and not the real-life adventurer he’s become since having found great fame and success from his books. North on the other hand lived these overt operations, and for that reason, he’s got to right up there with the most trustworthy novelists. One great contrast I noted between Cussler and North is that Cussler rarely (if ever) involves recurring nemeses, mostly because his protagonists end up killing the bad guys at the end of each book. I’m not sure which method I prefer more, for while North’s recurring nemesis Komulakov lends a stronger sense of unity to the series, it’s also less realistic. There are many more threats in the world than that single un-killable enemy, so at least Cussler’s heroes share that bit of realism.
I noticed two shortcoming to Assassins that I feel are worth mentioning. First, while the story plodded along at a fairly slow rate due to the intense dialogue throughout the majority of the book, it zoomed right by in the final pages, making the ending feel way too sudden. Even the death of Komulakov is hidden at the end of a quick paragraph, making me feel a bit let down that his demise after 1,600+ pages wasn’t more…explosive (of course, a few paragraphs later, the explosive part came about, but by that time he was already dead). Secondly, I was left without answer to a question that had been nagging me ever since Newman’s soldiers first arrived in Caracas, Venezuela: what in the world will happen to the Venezuelan family who risked everything to get these American soldiers into and out of the country by assisting them in killing an untold number of Venezuelan personnel? Certainly that President will come down hard on every single one of them, though we never hear a hint of it. This sort of sours the American victory a bit in my mind.
Besides these two points, I found the book an exciting and worthwhile read. I’d recommend all three books to anyone who loves exciting military adventure, especially a clean version which comes from a Christian author like North.