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Sins of the Assassin    by Robert Ferrigno order for
Sins of the Assassin
by Robert Ferrigno
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Some novels are so complex and provocative that a mere review becomes an insufficient introduction or enticement to prospective readers. So it is with Robert Ferrigno's Sins of the Assassin. Readers already familiar with Ferrigno's earlier work, Prayers for the Assassin, will be familiar with some of this sequel's characters and the dramatic premise which dominates both novels.

With that being said, here is a brief flashback to the premise of Prayers for the Assassin: In the near future, the United States of America has been devastated by nuclear bombs, political changes, and social upheavals. Moreover, most of the former USA has become a moderate Islamic republic; however, many of the southeastern states - known as the Bible Belt - broke away from the republic and formed themselves into a sovereign Christian nation which continues to threaten territories to the north and the west.

In the Islamic republic of the northern, Midwestern, and western states, the Muslim majority controls all facets of life: the calls to prayer reverberate everywhere, black robed clerics brutalize anyone who violates strict Islamic codes, economic progress has been stagnated, intellectual pursuits are repressed, and the collective consciousness of American citizens is dramatically encumbered and benumbed by fundamentalist religious and political doctrine. And within this environment in Prayers for the Assassin, protagonist Rakkim Epps - formerly an elite assassin on behalf of Islam - becomes involved in the dangerous exposure of several very pernicious secrets that threaten to destabilize the peace that tenuously lingers in what remains of America.

Now, in Sins of the Assassin, Rakkim Epps and his wife Sarah (and a few other notable characters from Prayers for the Assassin) return. Sarah is a top-secret advisor to the president, and Rakkim remains one of the few good guys in a world in which the distinctions between good and evil are confusingly blurred. In addition to several threats (and subplots) which are woven throughout Sins of the Assassin, the novel is dominated by Rakkim's new assignment: Problems are festering in the Bible Belt, and the president tells Rakkim of his concerns about Colonel Zachary Smitts (formerly a small-time Tennessee warlord whose recent activities and weapons acquisitions threaten the relative stability of the rest of the continent and world); so the president asks Rakkim, 'I want you to go back to the Bible Belt. Save the nation, noble Fedayeen. Be the hero again.'

With Leo, a na´ve nineteen year old technological genius, as his assistant, Rakkim's mission seems (on its surface) relatively simple: infiltrate the Bible Belt, find the Colonel's weapons of mass destruction, and eliminate those weapons (and the Colonel, if necessary, for good measure). But nothing in the not-so-brave-new-world of the former United States is simple and almost everything is dangerous. And so it is with Rakkim's pulse-pounding mission.

Chilling, mind-boggling, gut-wrenching, and exciting, Sins of the Assassin - continuing in the full-throttle mode of the excellent Prayers for the Assassin - is an imaginatively caustic thriller. Loaded with action and overflowing with thought-provoking issues, Rakkim's and Sarah's latest adventures in the new and not so improved United States of America is a profound and disturbing cautionary tale artfully disguised as highly entertaining speculative fiction. Don't miss it!

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