What I’m Reading Now: The Perfect Assassin

Do you get cold when you’re reading books that happen in the Arctic, or get the creepy-crawlies when you read about ants? Then maybe you want to have a glass of water nearby when you start today’s book, which you ought to do at the first possible opportunity.

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

Why did I get to read this book before it’s out? Because I have connections, that’s why. (Actually, it’s because the author is super-nice and let me have an advance reader copy. I tell you, this author gig has its perks, and being able to read amazing books before everyone else is a big one.)

Set in the exquisitely thirsty city of Ghadid, K.A. Doore’s masterful debut The Perfect Assassin follows newly-minted assassin Amastan as he races to solve a murder mystery while dealing with his own reservations about his chosen profession. Things just get more complicated when he steps in to save a mysterious stranger from a roaming janni–a handsome mysterious stranger.

Reader, we all know how I feel about anxious assassins, handsome mysterious strangers, and roaming furious spirits of the dead. And let me tell you: things just get better from there.

What kinds of awesome can you expect in this book?

  • Amastan, my ace, anxious, geek assassin fave
  • Rooftop fights! Jumps! Rope climbs! Things to make the acrophobic amongst us (me!) gasp a lot!
  • Intricate desert worldbuilidng–glasshouse gardens, water tokens, water magic, lovely men who hide their faces out of modesty…
  • Amastan
  • In fact, the many effortlessly diverse and interesting characters–they’re all very well drawn, with nary a cardboard cutout among them. Even the Serpent (super badass assassin trainer) is more than the stereotype of a martial-arts teacher (for one thing, she’s a super badass assassin trainer auntie, and she is not here for any of your guff)
  • Ghadid itself. I felt like I had actually traveled there, an experience that few books give me. To explain what I mean by using entirely different genres: McCall Smith’s Ladies’ Detective series contains the same sort of immersive sense of place, to the extent that I will sometimes catch myself saying “I think I want to go to Botswana” when I mean I want to re-read. I can foresee that I’ll be saying “I think I want to go to Ghadid today”.
  • Did I mention Amastan? Because I love that boy. But not in a way that would make him uncomfortable. (Who am I kidding? Everything about me would make him uncomfortable. If I ever met him all I could do is try to sit quietly and ply him with tea until he relaxed enough to not be anxiously wondering whether he should kill me right then.)

Doore has an excellent sense of characterization and dialogue, a deft touch with pathos, and a very good nose for action. All in all, it was a treat to read–a big, sandswept, heart-rending treat.

If you enjoy deserts, slow builds, having your emotions toyed with, and a solid amount of feeling like you’re very high up and that everybody you love could fall down at any moment, then you should definitely pre-order The Perfect Assassin. (You could also do it just because I need to talk with people about this book and be able to discuss the spoilers. I’m just saying.)

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