Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Assassins Gallery

This entry marks a first for my blog… the first time I get to review a book before its even been published. This entry is your sneak peak into Random House’s big book for the summer, The Assassins Gallery by David L. Robbins.

As the Lair’s loyal readers know, my wife and I know David pretty well, so I’m probably not the most objective reviewer. Even so, I feel prettysafe in saying David’s written a great thriller that a lot of you will enjoy.

The hardest thing about writing this review is not giving away too much, because there’s a lot of good twists in The Assassins Gallery. We’re introduced to Mikhel Lammeck, a professor who specializes in the history of assassinations. That’s his day job. With World War II still raging, he’s keeping busy training spies for the Allied forces. One of his old students, who is now a Secret Service agent, shows up to ask for his help. His former protégé has found evidence that an assassin has entered the United States with President Roosevelt as the target.

The book isn’t told just from Lammeck’s point-of-view, though. We also get to follow the assassin, a woman going by the name “Judith.” As assassins go, she’s the real deal, and David did his homework to give her some ingenious methods to kill.

Unfortunately for me, I entered this book already knowing quite a few plot twists. My wife had already read it, and I overheard a few things as she told David what she thought about the book. Even so, I still enjoyed The Assassins Gallery as much for the story as the writing. My wife and I both agree that David’s writing is damn solid in this book, some of his best. Last year, I wrote an entry discussing how I’ve struggled with writing chase scenes. Well, David delivers one great car chase scene within this book that goes through Washington, D.C. Talk about good action writing! I’ll probably be reading over that scene more than a dozen times to pick apart how David makes it work.

One of the things I really loved about this book was David’s character development. Judith stands out the most. He gives her a rich and credible history to explain why she is an assassin. The best touch is how she sees others. While her views about the people around her are always cold-blooded, there’s also a touch of humanity that makes her insights very real and not the two-dimensional thoughts all too often applied to serial killers.

Other Books by David L. Robbins:

Last week, my reply to Jess’ Writer’s Weekly Question mentioned how Bernard Cornwell takes time at the end of his Sharpe books to offer details about the actual events that inspired each story. David does much the same with The Assassins Gallery, and I appreciated just how much he relied on facts to build this cat-and-mouse chase that explores a great “What if?” regarding the end of World War II. This book didn’t just entertain me. It also taught me a few things about World War II and President Roosevelt.

1 comment:

Sandra Ruttan said...

So, how's the dual blog thing working? Should I post a link to this blog instead of the other one, or you still playing?

This book sounds really intriguing. Good characterization...might just have to put this on the long list!