The Kingdom of Assassins by Erik Mackenzie

The Kingdom of Assassins

Political perception is not political reality
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Debut author Mackenzie offers a crime thriller centered on the unlikely pairing of a hard-nosed New York City cop and a beautiful Saudi Arabian princess.

Mike “Mac” Maclaymore is a tough detective with a quick draw, a respect for history, and a penchant for foreign languages (“He spoke German, French, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Persian and Chinese with varying levels of aptitude”). The former Green Beret has seen his share of hardships, both on the battlefield and off. As he investigates the brutal murder of a Saudi Arabian diplomat, he crosses paths with Sahrazad, the daughter of the Saudi king, who’s come to identify the body of the victim. She’s not only gorgeous, she’s also Harvard-educated, and she indulges in such esoteric activities as falconry, which she’s happy to explain: “These Saker Falcons are trained with operant conditioning, using a food reward as positive reinforcement,” she says at one point. When the two later encounter each other under more dangerous circumstances, they form a romantic bond. Will they be able to trust each other as they unravel a lethal terrorist conspiracy? This debut thriller is full of action, betrayals, and moments of reflection (“Had America become a crumbling Roman Empire?”), and its plot moves along quickly. However, it’s not without its clichés; the police banter, for example, seems recycled from any number of cop dramas, including familiar complaints about the necessity of search warrants. However, the novel is also awash in cultural references, ranging from author Vladimir Nabokov to artist Frank Frazetta. Overall, the story manages to include enough novel details to keep even the most jaded thriller readers intrigued. This is particularly true of the ending, which proves to be as surprising as it is explosive.

Readers looking for a swift adventure, full of salty cops and murky agents, will enjoy this latest contribution to the thriller genre.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 2015
Page count: 253pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
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