Six master assassins -- each a legend in the dark corners of international espionage -- band together to steal a fortune from the middle of a war zone. But the mission goes tragically wrong, and they retreat into the shadows.
Now THE ASSASSINS are back.
Former military spy Judd Ryder is walking to his D.C. home when he spots a man coming out of his row house who looks like Ryder and is wearing his clothes. As Ryder slows to follow, the imposter is killed in a hit-and-run that's no accident. Was the man the intended victim, or was it Ryder himself?
Soon Ryder learns that the key to the mysterious events of the past and to his double's murder is an infamous Cold War assassin, the Carnivore. Two of the last people to see the Carnivore were Ryder and CIA trainee Eva Blake, and someone is using them to lure him out.
From Washington D.C. to Marrakech and Baghdad, the assassins wage a final battle -- this time against one another -- fighting for their reputations and Saddam Hussein's long-missing billion-dollar fortune. In the end, only one can be left standing. Caught in the crossfire, Judd and Eva go on the run while desperately unraveling the tangled past and battling not only for their lives, but for their destinies.
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Another fast-paced novel from Gayle Lynds! In the opening pages, which take place in 2003 in Baghdad at the site of the National Museum of Iraq, the reader is introduced to the eponymous killers, the best in the world at what they do, whose mission it is to steal a cuneiform tablet which will in turn lead them to the many tens of millions, if not billions, of dollars that had belonged to the now-dead Saddam Hussein. Jumping to the present time, with a hit-and-run murder quickly taking place, the novel brings the reader to Washington, D.C. and nearby spots in Maryland and Virginia, as well as Marrakech, Iraq and Beirut, with plenty of bloodshed, a lot of weaponry, and some fascinating history along the way. The author manages a seemingly impossible task: to humanize each paid killer, among them Judd Ryder, a 34-year-old former member of US Army Intelligence who had done ‘blood work’ in Pakistan and Iraq; Tucker Andersen, from a secret CIA unit; Burleigh Morgan, a Brit from the old East End; a former KGB member; an Israeli; a former Cosa Nostra killer; others including “the Padre,” “the Carnivore, “the Choirmaster,” a former Islamic Jihad, as well as a couple of women who are no less fearless than the men. Each also, it appears, has a target on his/her back, often from one or another of their own group. As the author says, “an assassin could never be too careful with his friends.” I must admit to at times having difficulty keeping up with just who is who in this cast of characters, each having at least one alias and various very professional disguises, but that in no way took away from the suspenseful ride. Spy thrillers generally are not among my favorites, but Gayle Lynds transcends the genre, with terrific characters and an imaginative plot, and I greatly look forward to any future books she writes, in this series or otherwise. Highly recommended.
The Assassins is that wonderful mix of action and description that makes a good book one that you can't wait to finish so that you can find out the ending. But simultaneously you are sad that it is done and you have to say good-bye to the characters you have come to enjoy so much. Lynds does a wonderful job of joining great descriptions of far-away places like Marrakech and a complicated and intriguing plot about six assassins who have themselves become the target. I am hoping the Judd Ryder will appear again soon.