Ready to read a riveting, edge-of-your-seat thriller? Rik Stone’s debut novel, Birth of an Assassin will fit the bill nicely.
Birth of an Assassin is one of those books that many people will pass up due to its setting (1947 Russia) or length (425 pages). And that is a shame because Rik Stone has written a brilliant novel which appeals to readers on so many levels. It’s character driven in the first half and chock full of fast paced action in the second.
While I began reading the book expecting something similar to a James Bond thriller, I soon discovered Mr. Stone’s story was quite original . . . and kept me turning pages long after the last drop of midnight oil had been extinguished. It’s longer than most books I read, a whopping 425 pages, but the plot and characters are so well developed, I wasn’t aware of the length by the time I reached mid-point. The moral of this paragraph is length should never be a factor in determining what book to read. If the plot and story line are well executed, a few more pages only add to the pleasurable experience.
Birth of an Assassin portrays one man’s journey as he learns about choice and consequence. Young Jez Kornfeld runs away from home and family to follow his dream . . . join the Red Army. He is taken under the wing by a General who sees Jez’s potential in the military. Sure enough, Jez rises to the top in a corrupt environment as an excellent soldier, and thoughtful, meticulous killing machine.
When a public disturbance occurs, however, involving his sisters, Jez must determine where his loyalty lies. He chooses family, unaware his actions are being monitored. As things begin to unravel, Jez realizes he’s created enemies in the ranks. He is soon set up as a scapegoat for murder and human trafficking. Hunted by the KGB, Jez risks everything to prove his innocence.
This is a fascinating story full of twists and turns. The author obviously did his homework and created a realistic world in post war Russia, as well as complex characters and a nice layering of sub-plots. Don’t let the summer pass without reading this book. In the very least, add it to your to-be-read list for winter. You will be pleased you did.
Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Given the order to disperse and arrest a crowd of Jewish demonstrators in Red Square, Jez breaks up the rally but discovers his sisters in their ranks. Rushed for a solution, he sneaks the girls from under the noses of secret police and hides them in downtown Moscow. But he knows they will no longer be safe in Russia. He has to find them a safe route out.
The journey begins, but he is unaware that his every move is being observed and that he has set in motion a chain of events that will plunge his life into a headlong battle to stay alive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, and left school at 15 without any academic qualifications.
He worked in the shipyards on a local river and later went into the merchant navy. Further down the line, he worked quarries in Essex in South East England.
But life was without horizons until, contrary to what his teachers had told him, he found he was capable of studying and completed a BSc degree in mathematics and computing.
Life got lucky for him when he took company pension at 50 and began writing. And now, here he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series.