Tag Archives: book reviews

The Three Best Novels About Assassins

The professional assassin is a different animal than the professional soldier.  For one thing, the assassin is almost always working outside of the law while the soldier works within it…mostly anyhow.  The professional assassin isn’t some amateur going off half assed like some kind of gangland thug.  He is a meticulous planner who games specific situations and specific targets, coming up with a specialized operation which applies to that target’s routines and patterns of life.  Take for instance, Teddy Medina an NPA assassin in the Philippines.  He trained for about ten minutes a day, every day, on drawing his .45 caliber handgun from concealment and executing his target.  To that end, he became very adept at planning his hits.  On the other hand you have professional soldiers, let’s take one from the same era: Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver who served in MACV-SOG in Vietnam.  Jerry was a soldier and like other SOG troops, would train with a variety of weapons, not just a .45.  These guys had to know how to use CAR-15’s, M79 grenade launchers, hand grenades, pistols, and even technical induction based eavesdropping equipment.  The skill sets they had to master were more general because of the number of threats and situations they faced in the jungles of South East Asia.  Still, there is something that has always held the popular imagination about the assassin, including the realm of fiction.  Let’s take a minute to look at a couple of my favorite fictional and semi-fictional assassins.



A Bomb Built in Hell is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Aside from the relevant social commentary, Andrew Vachss’ first novel pulls no punches, a style he became well known for years later.  Wesley is a small time con who gets recruited by a mobster in prison who begins to teach him assassin trade craft so that he can kill the man who betrayed him once Wesley gets out of prison, as the mafioso is in for life.  The techniques Wesley learns are chilling but effective as you see when he gets out of the joint and starts plying his trade.  Well ahead of its time, A Bomb Built in Hell was way too hardcore for polite society, forcing Vachss to shelve it for years.  It was only recently that it finally made it to print.

Court Gentry


Court Gentry is another mysterious assassin who is right up there with Wesley.  Court also started off as a criminal until he got recruited into a CIA initiative to conduct covert operations.  After 9/11 shit got real, maybe a little too real and Court got burned by the Agency.  Now he works as a freelance singleton operator.  The first in the series, The Gray Man, is one of the best action-adventure books out there these days.  Court pisses off some very powerful people who put out a high end contract on him, a contract that the world’s intelligence services and Special Operations forces respond too.  Maybe the most interesting of Court’s opposition is an equally mysterious operative from South Korea, another singleton operator who does missions in North Korea.  This is must read book.

The Clinic

The Feather Men

I have mixed feelings about The Clinic as portrayed in The Feathermen, later made into a “okay” film called Killer Elite.  The Clinic is actually a bunch of low life sociopathic assassins who square off with another non-official group called The Feathermen.  The Feathermen act like guardian angels for British SAS soldiers, protecting them from the likes of the IRA and others.  I’ve been told that such groups really exist, for both the SAS and SBS.  The Clinic consists of a former US Marine as team leader with two others, including a technician who knows how to sabotage cars and helicopters.  The Clinic specializes in making their assassinations look like accidents, or at least something other than what they are.  The book is about a tribal leader in Oman who hires the Clinic to go and kill the SAS men who were behind killing his family members year prior.  But The Feathermen is also problematic, the author wrote the book with the byline “fact or fiction?” and openly concedes that he blended fact and fiction, that the groups and people in it are real but that much of the book was fictionalized, leaving the reader to determine which is which.  I would say that the reader is best off regarding the entire book as a work of clever fiction and nothing more.


Filed under Military Fiction, Reviews, Writing

Negative Book Reviews

I try not to comment (much) when my books get negative reviews.  The review is the prerogative of the reader and it really isn’t my place to judge them for it.  Good, bad, indifferent, every reader is entitled to their opinion.  That said, some reviews just leave me scratching my head…

“If you like to waste time reading about incredible actions performed by supermen succeding against overwhelming odds, then this is the book for you. The plot is contrived and stunted with plenty of bad people, thankfully exterminated by our all-American hero.”

Dude, if that isn’t what you are looking for in a novel then why in the world would you read a book with this product description?

Reflexive Fire Military Thriller

An assassin who is in over his head.
A cabal that wants him to lead a secret army.
A conspiracy decades in the making.

“The hero is everything you could hope for in an action-adventure–intelligent, charismatic, honorable, a combat veteran from an elite unit, and just slopping over with badassity.” -Hank Brown, author of Hell and Gone.

As a freelance assassin, Deckard is no stranger to the shadow world of covert operations, but when he is summoned to Bohemian Grove and hired to train and lead a battalion of Kazakh mercenaries, he soon discovers his employer’s real agenda: a doomsday plot decades in the making.

“If you’re the kind of guy who loves action movies, but grimaces with every technical and tactical fail… you NEED to buy this book.” -a combat veteran from a NATO nation.

Now, free humanity’s only chance for survival rests with Deckard’s renegade Private Military Company. From Afghanistan, to Burma, and beyond, the clock is ticking down to global extinction.

“A military novel, written by a true expert on the subject, just takes the story to another, higher level, compared to books made up by ‘civilian’ authors with vivid imaginations.” -Frank Jones, 15-year military veteran and private security contractor.

“Fiction has a new star in the making. This awesome work of fiction (is it really..?) will rank right up there with ‘Dogs of War’ and ‘The Forever War’ in defining a new era in action/adventure novels or genre.” -JG Scott

“With Jack Murphy, you know he’s been there and done that, so you wonder where the line is between the made up stuff and where he’s drawing upon his real-life experiences.” -Dan Eldredge

I wrote this book for those of you who are ready for this genre to go to the next level, beyond superficial political messages and stereotypical terrorists wearing turbans on their heads, I hope this book connects with a different breed of reader and action-adventure fan. -Jack Murphy, author, Special Forces veteran.”

Sometimes the problem is that it just isn’t the right book for the right person.  I can’t appeal to readers who want to hear about gay vampires anymore than the authors of Twilight or Harry Potter can appeal to military veterans like me.  Thems the breaks I guess!

Oh, I almost forgot…BUY MY BOOK!


Filed under Action Adventure, Military Fiction, Reviews, Writing

Book Reviews

Taking a break from all the I-love-me pictures I’m going to review some books I’ve read recently.

First up is Mark Ellis’ “Cryptozoica”.  This novel follows the basic premise of Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and Doyle’s “Lost World” taking place on a lost island in the South China sea where a band of pulp action misfits wind up getting stranded.  The book takes a while to really get moving as the first half is mostly about character development and double crosses.

Aside from that this book definitely delivered by combining Dinosaurs, Pulp heroes, and the kind of off beat science you expect to find in books like “Technology of the Gods,” By David Hatcher Childress or “The 12th Planet” by Zacharia Sitchin.  You have a lost civilization from an antediluvian past, a evil midget with a napoleon complex, and a Triad mob war all going on at the same time.

I wrote a more extensive review at Amazon that you can check out if you like, this one is a must for action-adventure and pulp fans.

Next up is Day by Day Armageddon 2: Beyond Exile.   Highly anticipated by zombie fiction fans (yes, that is a genre) DBDA2 did not disappoint.  Like the first in the series this is the type of book you will probably tear through in a day.  Written in the format of the journal of a Air Force pilot’s struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse it follows his day to day fight against the undead.

Things really get hot towards the second half of the book as we find our survivor stranded and alone deep behind “enemy lines” out in the hinterlands with massive hordes of zombies plowing across what is left of America.  The book ends with a glimpse of an intelligence report hinting at what will happen in DBDA3, its a major plot twist and well worth the read.

Beyond Exile definitely has it’s share of twists and keeps you guess as to what is going to happen next.  My only complaint is that one player in the book called “Remote Six” appears out of nowhere and saves our survivor several times.  While Remote Six is a interesting concept in the book I thought it’s assistance seemed like a bit of a cop out at times.  Still, this is a five star book, check it out.

Finally we have one from the long running Executioner series, “Volatile Agent”.  I enjoyed this novel quite a bit and was sorry to hear that this ghost writer for the series has since moved on to other projects.  This time we have Mack Bolan in West Africa attempting to locate a freelance agent who has information everyone and his brother in the intel community is desperate to lay their hands on.

Bolan was surprisingly human and fallible in this novel which was something I liked and a departure from many of the Executioner novels these days.  He makes mistakes, misses shots, has a horrible HALO jump, gets shot, in short he takes a hell of a beating and barely survives.

The research done for this novel was also surprisingly good, the HALO jump towards the beginning of the book was fairly well done and well described.  Most authors screw it up by writing about Bolan having his reserve strapped in front (like a static line jump) or by talking about 20 minutes of free fall time!

Well worth the time for fans of the genre.


Filed under Action Adventure, Reviews