Thriller: Mark of the Assassin, by Daniel Silva

3.0 out of 5 stars Terrorists have their uses

The Mark of the Assassin is billed as part of the Gabriel Allon series, and as a prequel, I suppose there’s some truth in that. But Allon makes no appearances here, although familiar characters such as Adrian Carter do have roles. The eponymous assassin is Jean-Paul Delaroche, whose “mark” is his killing style, always three shots to the face. He’s a pretty effective antagonist. As for the protagonist, Michael Osborne, he’s no Gabriel Allon, personality wise. Most of the characters, in fact, good or bad, have few redeeming qualities. Such a bunch of self absorbed connivers are rarely found in a single book.

The first half of Mark is the setup for the final showdown in the second half. It seems that terrorism can be manipulated to serve the purposes of any government, and the U.S. President’s men are experts at getting their way. The action takes place in various glamorous locations across the Atlantic, with the climax set in Washington D.C. Back home, Elizabeth Osborne, has found her best friend Susannah’s slaughtered corpse, and knows that her murder is connected to some potentially explosive investigative journalism Susannah was doing. What could be more natural than that Elizabeth, newly pregnant via in-vitro, would pick up the cause that Susannah was forced to drop?!

Mark of the Assassin is way too long, especially the first half, and some judicious editing would yield a tauter story. As it stands, it’s a typical spy thriller with little to differentiate it from all the others.

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