I read Assassin’s Lullaby by Mark Rubinstein in one sitting and it cost me a night’s sleep.
It isn’t just the pace, the adventure, or the action. It is the interwoven thoughts of a contract killer who is no longer fully emotionally detached and has been in denial for a while. And now, with this new assignment, he must make a choice.
Eli Dagan has an impressive resume. A former field agent for the Mossad, an expert in electronic intelligence, he is the best contract killer around. Meticulous, careful, always alert, aware, however, Dagan is starting to make decisions that go against his training and habits. He compromises his anonymity.
Odessa mafia boss Anton Gorlov, wants to hire Eli Dagan for a two part mission. The first part is not unexpected, take out the competition. While discussing the terms for the first part, Eli catches a rare glimpse of a human emotion in Gorlov, sadness. He accepts the assignment without hearing about part two.
Rubinstein takes us through a professional killer’s routines, safety procedures, and work methods. Bit by bit he shows us how the hardened former field agent, who never could completely put his tragic past behind him, slowly slips and will inevitably make a dangerous mistake. Can he catch himself before the mistake becomes lethal?
We follow Dagan through New York, meet Gorlov’s number two in command, and experience how they take care of those who betray them. The latter is not easy to read. Neither is reading about the betrayal within circles of friends, even family, and how easy it is to consider someone collateral damage.
As the true plotlines unfold, Dagan’s course becomes clear but not before he must battle his biggest demon that has, until then, been his infailable armour.
As this book is not out until June 21, 2022 I do not want to give away too much about the characters and the plotlines. But I can say this, Rubinstein present us with a colourful cast of characters ranging from those who are just cruel and violent to those who are slick and subtly deceptive. It is hard (for me) to be sympathetic towards a contract killer but by reflecting Dagan’s thoughts, a clever tactic, Rubinstein does show us the human being in the killer and how despite years of suppression, his humanity is still there.
The book is well written, good pace, with believable characters. Highly recommended reading but maybe not right before bed.
The book that I read is an advance uncorrected galley which I received in exchange for an honest review. I do not know if the ultimate version will have maps, etc.