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The Reluctant Assassin by Alexander Logan

Alexander Logan’s second novel, The Reluctant Assassin, takes the reader from Australia to Afghanistan to France. Tom Grace, a Brisbane surgeon, is hoping to rekindle his relationship with journalist Kate Reynolds. But Kate goes on assignment to Afghanistan, and within a short time, she is kidnapped. Tom takes a leave of absence from his work and flies over to Afghanistan, in a misguided attempt to find her. But Tom has no idea that Kate is working for the Afghanistan Women’s Revolutionary Association and the journalistic assignment was just a cover for her real intent, and she hasn’t been kidnapped at all.

Tom is drawn into a dangerous world in Afghanistan, and before long he’s the one being kidnapped and taken against his will to Marseille in France by arms dealer Ahmed Bakir – and French-educated Afghan, a man with a great deal of personal charisma, but terrorist intentions. Kate breaks her cover in Afghanistan and travels to France with her dear Afghan friend Minnah, and they work to free Tom, but then Kate is inexplicably drawn to the charismatic arm’s dealer and his life of luxury and excess. Meanwhile, Minnah and her brother are on a mission of revenge, as the arm’s dealer murdered Minnah’s husband.

The Reluctant Assassin is a complicated, multi-faceted novel, that had me thinking about it long after finishing the final page. It’s full of action, but it’s the themes of the book are its main strengths. Alexander Logan explores opposing cultures and religious sensitivities, revenge and honour, love and family. It examines wealth and poverty, and the seduction of crime versus the hard graft of honest living.

The character of Tom drives the action in the book, and he is a very appealing, honourable man. But it is the character of Minnah who is the most compelling in this book. An educated Afghan woman, she is reassessing her life after the murder of her husband, searching for truth and struggling to move away from many things she has been taught over her lifetime that she comes to believe is corrupt.

Intrigue, murder, corruption, and exotic locations – this novel has it all. This is a thrilling read that will also get you thinking.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Wild Side Publishing, RRP $34.99