Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Book Review: Prayers for the Assassin


Prayers for the Assassin is a 496 page paperback near-future thriller by Robert Ferrigno published 2006.

Here's the essential problem --- the foundation of the story isn't believable. Ferrigno bases his plot on the idea that the world believes that a nuclear attack on New York City, Washington, DC and Mecca in 2015 is the work of Israeli agents. As a result, most of the USA converts to Islam, with a group of the southern states breaking away to form a Christian nation.

It doesn't ring true. A novelist, particularly someone writing speculative fiction, asks his readers to suspend disbelief, but he has to present a realistic premise. Why would anyone believe that Israel, which depends on America for its survival, would attack US cities and then throw in Mecca for good measure? And even if you believed Israelis were responsible for the attack, why would you lose your faith and convert to Islam?

Nevertheless, I ignored this ridiculous concept and kept reading. The action is set in 2040. Sarah Dougan, a respected historian, isn't convinced it was an Israeli attack, so she begins to dig into the story. When the Old One, the mysterious Muslin actually responsible for the attack, learns of Sarah's investigation, he hires Darwin, a deadly assassin, to take care of Sarah. With the assistance of Rakkim Epps, her secret lover, Sarah races to uncover the true terrorist while Darwin murders just about everyone she contacts.

Once I pushed aside the premise, I found a gripping thriller that kept my interest. Ferrigno should be commended for a balanced portrayal of Islam; even depicting Sarah and Rakkim as moderate Muslims.

Overall, Prayers for the Assassin is a pretty good near-future thriller.

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