Stripped down to bare basics, this is a straightforward, high velocity, heavy calibre action thriller. An uncomplicated romp, it kicks off locked and loaded and barely grabs a breath throughout. Travis Kain is a semi-retired killer from the Jason Bourne school of assassins. (Rogue agents are all the rage right now: there’s another couple lined up on my kindle as I type). Kain doesn’t come with high-tech augmentation but he has all the training, all the ordnance and all the moves. He also has a fractured psyche wrapped around a broken heart – his life was ripped apart when his best friend got it on with his best girl, and she subsequently committed suicide.
Since then, Kain has been off the grid, freelancing, an extremely effective gun for hire. Subtle isn’t his style: he tends to go for heavy ordnance. His old firm (one of those No Such Agencies which apparently abound in the USA) have left him well alone. Until now, when suddenly they come gunning for him… just when a private job goes wildly wrong and an old lover, vulnerable and available, stumbles onto the scene.
The result is a punchy sequence of action set pieces in which dozens die in semi-automatic shoot-outs and brutally bloody close quarters combat. Author Mark Allen offsets the ratcheting tension with quieter interludes of emotional intensity, while the fast-paced plot retains its pace and focus. With all guns turned against him, Kain has one last chance for redemption and a new life – but he’ll have to beat the odds to reach it.
If you’re looking for new concepts, original ideas, technical depth, contemplative morality or complex political philosophy then keep on looking; you won’t find them here. There’s little to slow down the action or interfere with the plot, hence several of the subsidiary characters are little more than stereotypes from central casting. Convenient plot devices abound – like the illicit gun dealer who everyone except law enforcement seem to know about, or the Mafioso mobsters who still settle territorial disputes with full-on gun fights.
This looks to be Allen’s first full-length novel, published a few years ago. As such, it fair rattles along and the crisp writing propels you through the pages with few distractions. His more recent books may well be more sophisticated than this earlier effort – but The Assassin’s Prayer definitely delivers gob-smacking moments from the first page to the last.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Assassin’s Prayer by Mark Allen is available as an ebook or paperback
THE CORRUPTION OF CHASTITY ebook is now HALF-PRICE at Amazon…