Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Gentle Assassin by Ryan David Jahn

Review by The Mole

Andrew Combs grew up with his grandparents because when he was just 18 months his father, Harry Combs, had pulled him from their burning home and started to run from both the police and Rathbone, a shirt manufacturer who fronted for a network of hit men - professional assassins. Andrew's mother and her lover had both been shot before the fire and the fire deliberately set to 'clean' the area. Now at the age of 27, Andrew has used letters from his father, letters he was not supposed to find, to trace him through a private detective - and he wants revenge for the death of his mother.

Does Andrew really have what it takes to exact revenge or can he find it in his heart to forgive and build bridges to a happy and safe future? Unfortunately his efforts to locate his father have woken up other sleeping dogs who want his father dead - but does he still have what it takes to stay alive?

Scattered throughout are extracts from a believed genuine CIA manual on assassination containing things that are at times funny and often worrying that it can discuss the subject so coldly!

I found this an unusual story because while it is one of a broken family trying to address their history it is also packed with action and emotion. The back story is exposed quite early on but is added to at frequent intervals throughout the book so that the reader understands the drivers behind Andrew but how accurate is any history - or the guilt and hate that can be fed by it.

The story flits between Harry and Andrew and frequently to Andrew's fantasies of revenge - something that is achieved very successfully and further helps the reader to understand this troubled young man.

The final scene can be read as a "get out" - how can Jahn extricate the characters from this mess he has built and embroiled the reader in, and at the same time give an ending that the reader wants or at leasts accepts - but there is a natural justice to the outcome despite not being the ending I would have liked.

The first Jahn I have read and hopefully it won't be the last. An excellent, if rather violent read.

Publisher - Pan Macmillan
Genre - Adult fiction, crime thriller

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