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Heart of the Assassin: A Novel Hardcover – August 11, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in a future American divided into two major regions, Edgar-finalist Ferrigno's final entry in his Assassin trilogy (after Sins of the Assassin) nicely ties up the wildly diverse plot lines that have motivated his many characters. New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Mecca have all been nuked by the Old One, a 150-year-old Muslim fanatic trying to become the Muslim messiah who will lead a new caliphate. The only person who can stop him is Rakkim Epps, a fedayeen warrior whose historian wife, Sarah, is masterminding an effort to unite America by finding a piece of the true cross, buried somewhere in the D.C. nuclear hot zone. The Old One is aided by Baby, a brilliant blonde bombshell who's married to the Colonel, a powerful warlord. One can read this volume as a stand-alone, but to enjoy the vast breadth of what is truly a remarkable achievement, one should start with book one, Prayers for the Assassin, and read the series in order. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

This is the culminating novel in Ferrigno’s post-apocalyptic Assassin trilogy, following Prayers for the Assassin (2006) and Sins of the Assassin (2008), which was recently selected as a finalist for the Edgar Award. Key leaders are planning to reunite the U.S., long divided into an Islamic Republic and a Christian Bible Belt. Elite Muslim warrior Rakkim Epps’ wife, Sarah, believes the path to reunification lies in retrieving a relic of Christ’s cross kept in a safe room beneath Washington, D.C., an area long looted by scavengers known as zombies who are willing to risk contamination from nuclear fallout in order to retrieve and sell treasured items. Also interested in reuniting America is the Old One, a 150-year-old despot who has achieved near immortality through genetic engineering. Now, though, his time is running out as his body begins to reject enhancements to his system. He sends his ruthless, voluptuous daughter, Baby, to recruit Rakkim into his plan to achieve world domination. Ferrigno wraps up his provocative trilogy in grand style, alternating scenes of inventive mayhem with sweeping indictments of spineless politicians and fanatical extremists. --Joanne Wilkinson
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Product Details

  • Series: Assassin
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416537678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416537670
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in South Florida, a tropical backwater rife with mosquitoes, flying cockroaches and the sweet stink of life. My youth was spent stealing science-fiction paperbacks from the local mini-mart and cutting tunnels through the palmetto thickets behind my house with a machete. Later, I regularly burned down those palmettos for the pleasure of seeing the fire trucks arrive, sirens blaring.

After earning degrees in Philosophy, Film-Making and Creative Writing, I thought that I would be happy as a college professor, writing dense, literary novels which I would assign to my students. I found, however, that being a professor was mostly a matter of going to meetings, and that I hated reading, let alone writing dense, literary novels. Instead, I went back to my first love, poker.

The next five years I gambled full-time, living in a high-crime area populated by starving artists, alcoholics, and drug dealers, likeable sleazballs who would later populate my novels. After a time, I got restless and used some of my winnings to start a punk rock magazine called The Rocket, where I interviewed the Clash, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, etc. The success of The Rocket got me a job as a feature writer for a daily newspaper in Southern California, where I took the adventure-and-new-money beat.

Over the next seven years I flew jets with the Blue Angels, drove Ferraris and went for desert survival training with gun nuts. More importantly, the newspaper taught me to train my eye and ear, to observe, to research, and how to use direct, concise language to create a character, and set a scene. The newspaper was a great gig but I wanted to write novels. I quit my day job.

My first novel, THE HORSE LATITUDES, (1991) was called the fiction debut of the season by Time magazine. It was, however, only May. Since then I have written eleven more novels, the most recent of which is THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF, an ebook-only. My work has been described by the Washington Post as "Quentin Tarantino territory, with drugged-out and sometimes violent people in search of sensory overload, but what makes it all not just bearable, but often compelling, is Ferrigno's scorching wit and his relentless moral sense."

Everything has turned out better than I expected.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Bowes on August 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A trilogy is hard. Authors tell us this. Readers know it. That which surprises us, thrills us, or captivates us in part I has grown old by part III. Though imperfect, "Heart" keeps the pages turning and kept me up late to find how this all works out. Lots of characters moderate their craziness in this episode. But crazy is still here. Wait till you visit the Bridge of Skulls.

Ferrigno has created a world that still makes us wonder, what if.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris on August 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting for this book ever since I finished the last two in the trilogy. The character development is first-rate and it results in you cheering for the heroes - even for some of the more unlikely heroes. These books kept me thinking, wondering and frankly, the whole idea is truly scary; however in some ways, they are hopeful as well as thoughtful. The world today is scary, yet the possible world in these books is truly freightening. Anyone who reads this trilogy will re-think some of their fears, prejudices, and even their opinions about the world today. I give the book and the trilogy my absolute recommendation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ken Coffman on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though Robert denies it, this series stands with other immortal works of speculative social analysis and commentary like 1984 and Brave New World. But, first of all, Robert's prose is breezy and fast-paced--a pure pleasure to read. He communicates very effectively.
As always, there is genius in his menagerie of odd and distinct characters; the brave, the smart, the beautiful and the evil. They are all infused with humanity springing from Robert's keen observation of human quirks and foibles.
But the easy-reading and compelling characters are icing on the cake. The real debt the reader owes this series is the prescient realization of a world where the hole in our souls--unfilled by spiritless, dumbed-down education, reality TV and relentless commercialization and marketing--can be filled by the certainty of religion. We have a human need to fill ourselves with something; there is luxury and relief in falling backwards into the comforting arms of fundamentalist religions, including Islam. If you think the fragmentation and overthrow of the United States can't happen here, then you're not paying attention to the current lessons of Iran, Holland and Britain.
In 2000, Robert wanted to write a more significant book--as if it might be the last book he writes; one that would define his literary legacy. It took courage to do this and I applaud that courage. This series should be read and discussed and enjoyed...if you haven't indulged yourself yet, then I urge you to do so. As I said above, these 'Assassin' books are thought-provoking and easy to read. You can't ask more from a novel. Five Stars.

Ken Coffman is the author of Hartz String Theory, Steel Waters and other novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian Baker VINE VOICE on August 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ferrigno maintains the brilliance of this saga right through to the last page. Further, in the way this novel concludes, he has the courage to conclusively wrap up the entire story, leaving no doubt that this is the final chapter of this trilogy, unlike many authors who keep milking the money cow until the udder's dry.

So, further kudos for artistic integrity.

This may well be the darkest entry of an already dark series. We follow Rikki Epps as he continues his quest to bring the evil Old One down. From San Francisco (New Fallujah), where the Golden Gate Bridge has become the ghastly Bridge of Skulls, to New Miami, to Seattle, with mounting tensions arising from neighboring Aztlan (Mexico) to the south... this cast of fascinating characters continues to evolve and develop, and I found it enthralling. The Old One's daughter Baby - last seen in a helicopter flying away from her husband the Colonel - is back, and she's baaaaaad to the bone! She's as interesting and captivating as Rikki himself.

This is a terrific book as a stand-alone, but if you REALLY want to get the full benefit, I'd strongly recommend you read the two preceding novels. Not only will you understand everything going on in this one, but they're terrific reads, too.

A very solid five stars, and both thumbs up.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Ciccone on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I I first saw the starting book of this trilogy, Prayers, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. Now, its several years later, I've read all three books, and I must say that this is a pretty decent ending to a very engaging and interesting story. There are however, a few things I noticed in the book that I would like to point out (WARNING: for anyone who hasn't read the book(s), here be spoilers):

1. The whole neo-Aztec pantheon that Ferrigno has created for his Aztlan characters. I admit that I am not entirely familiar with the ideology behind Aztlan, but I doubt that it goes so far as to embrace the deities of pre-Columbian Mexico as Argusto (Arbusto?) and his cohorts did in this book; in addition, in the first book, there is a reference to the Southwest and southern California being culturally part of the "Mexican Empire", and since every description of these regions in the other books mentions the inhabitants as largely Catholic, I find it hard to believe they would accept this type of pantheism.

2. When Rakkim, Sarah and Michael are in the House of Martyrs; the description of the museum and the DC Quran is almost word for word the same as the one in the first book. I don't know whether the author included this deliberately or by mistake, but I felt the need to point it out.

3. General Kidd's son Amir was called the Lion of Boulder in the second book; in the third he is called the Lion of Durango (??)

4. On pg. 121, when the three scholars are reciting sections from Sarah's book, I noticed that the text from that was mixed with a ninth-grade history paper mentioned as being read by the Old One in the second book in the trilogy.
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