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November 21, 2020

Church of the Assassin by Ross Harrison ~ a Review

by MK French


Alexiares is an assassin that survived a deadly purge of her sect. She somehow inherits a baby girl, and is on the run with the child. All she'd ever known before was how to kill and how to repair cars, so she isn't sure how she could care for a baby. Alexiares is sure that she can only give Baby a life of pain and suffering, but Baby is now her reason to keep going despite the hunters willing to tear apart the galaxy to find them both.
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Church of the Assassin
November 2020; Shadow Archer Publishing
ebook (312 pages); thriller

While this is the fifth book in the Nexus series, it's a standalone thriller. This is good because I hadn't read the four prior books. This is more of a character study and thriller than space opera, though the locations of note are different planets, and our main characters are human or alien.

Aside from some flashes of Alex being a badass while drunk and musing on her probable sociopathy with her roommate, the beginning of this book outlines the origins of the Church, the reason assassins are needed by the Church, and the punishment that failed assassins get if the government catches them. It's certainly inventive to have nanites injected that makes your eyeballs glow, and the casual cruelty that the authorities can show is an accepted normal along with the gangs in the city that the assassin sect won't get rid of. They have gang rivalries, and there are even rivalries between this sect of the assassins and the main Church.

Woven through Alex's story is the team of Blake and Cumel, a pair investigating odd deaths, from a woman whose cybernetics couldn't restart her heart to a young woman that fell off a roof with a generic suicide note. As a younger officer, Blake isn't put off on the idea of assassins potentially being involved, even when older officers tell him it's not worth his life. Eventually, his arc crosses Alex's, but he's still not the main character.

While the back cover copy mentions the purge and acquisition of Baby, it doesn't happen until a third of the way through the novel. This makes the beginning feel a little draggy. There are sequences where we're in Alex's head, and she has such attention to minute detail that it almost bogs down the action and defuses some of the tension in fight scenes. I understand that her actions have to be reasonably worked out and a display of her actual knowledge and ability, but she's an alien assassin. I think we can give her a bit of leeway and not explain every single detail. Even so, I appreciated the skill and precision that Alex worked with, and her determination to give Baby a better life, no matter what it took. Every parental figure will understand that, and cheer her on to the bloody end.

Buy Church of the Assassin at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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