Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Sins of the Assassin" by Robert Ferrigno

Imagine that you have been in a time capsule and ended up in the year 2043. The United States is no longer a country. New York and Washington, D.C. have been destroyed by nuclear bombs.
This is the setting behind "Sins of the Assassin."
In what used to be the western United States is the Islamic Republic, governed by an aging, moderate president. However, behind the scenes are the Black Robes, a fringe group out to destroy any non fundamentalists.
In the east and south is the Christian Bible Belt torn by warlords.
Rakkim Epps is the hero of this futuristic tale. He is a defender of the Islamic Faith and foe of the fundamentalists.
He is asked to return to the Bible Belt when Col. Zachary Smitts is becoming a threat. He has a growing army and has greatly increased the territory he governs.
The armies in the Bible Belt are enemies of the Islamic Republic. The Colonel brings in John Moseby, a finder, to locate an advanced weapon from the old regime that is powerful enough to change the course of current history.
Since the Colonel is such an anti Muslem, Rakkim is asked to go undercover with a young assistant to find this weapon before the Colonel has a chance to use it. Rakkim's assistant, Leo, is a pudgy teenager who seems irreverent to Rakkim but is a genius and later proves his usefulness.
It is Leo who will be able to tell if this new weapon is dangerous and if so to destroy it.
The Colonel's deputy is a sadist named Gravenholtz and he becomes a rival of Rakkim. (Seeing the name Gravenholtz made me feel that the author is influenced by Charles Dickens in naming characters for their personality).
As the action progresses, Rakkim stages a diversion with a group of red necks and drug users from the Bible Belt led by Matthew Crews.
There is a battle and Rakkim has grown fond of the Colonel and helps defend him while Leo takes steps to prevent the weapon from getting into the wrong hands.
There are some interesting turns of plot here and a villainous character called the Old One is seen as the person pulling many of the strings and a major influence in the Black Robes.
Ferrigno is a wonderful writer who won Mystery Ink's 2007 Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller. This novel has been justly nominated for the Edgar Award for best mystery novel of the year. It is the second book in a planned trilogy.
Highly recommended.

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