It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’m thrilled to bring you another book by Martyn V. Halm–an author whose work I have greatly enjoyed in the past. (Link to other book). Today, a thriller about a fascinating female assassin…
Assassin Katla breaks her own rules when confronted with an unusual witness…
Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, regards murder for profit as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Her solitary existence seems more than satisfactory until a blind musician wanders in on her crime scene.
Katla only kills for profit or to protect her anonymity, and Bram Merleyn seems harmless and unable to identify her. By sparing his life, she breaks one of her most important rules—never leave a living witness. A decision Katla might not survive to regret…
My Review: 4 Stars
There was a lot to love about the book:
Katla. I love assassins, and Katla was definitely an assassin worth reading. Confident, calm, collected, lethal, and yet surprisingly human (perhaps TOO human for my tastes), she’s a well-written character that deserves her role as central figure of this series. I definitely want to find out more about what she’s up to in the next books.
I LOVED the rich complexity of the world written in this book. The author has clearly done a good deal of research, and everything is explained clearly. As the blurb says “Reprobate gives a…glimpse into local Dutch culture, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, the psychology of social engineering, and the brutal efficacy of disciplined violence.”
However, there were a few things I found slightly flawed. First off, the climax: there was none. There was no gentle buildup, no sudden flurry of action. It simply…ended with more of a “whimper” than a “bang”. The ending was satisfying, but I was hoping for a thrilling climax to the book where all the plot points converge. Didn’t happen, and that left me disappointed.
The character of Bram Merleyn felt a tad superfluous to this particular story. Perhaps in later books he will play a more important role, but in this one he’s little more than a not-too-cleverly-placed romantic foil. The books “will she regret leaving him alive” hook never shows up in the story, so he came off like a male version of a two-dimensional romance interest.
Flaws or not, the book is EXCELLENT. The world is developed, everything is genuine and authentic, and the story is gripping. It’s definitely worth picking up as a first introduction to the world of Katla, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.
Here’s a Taste:
She stepped into the corridor, closed the door behind her and turned the doorknob sign from ‘Do Not Disturb’ to ‘You Can Clean Up My Room’. With a thin smile, Katla removed the gloves and strolled down the corridor to the emergency stairs.
Behind her a door clicked shut.
Katla turned around, her left hand around the hilt of her knife.
A shoe creaked. Someone in the corridor, not moving towards the elevators, but heading in her direction.
She drew her blade and flattened herself against the inner curve of the corridor.
A slender man came into view, mouth tight with tension, a semi-automatic pistol with a long suppressor aligned with his leg.
Katla brought her knife hand up.
Eyes wide, the man jerkily raised the pistol two-handed.
With a languid flip Katla whipped her hand forward and tracked the weapon with her fingers as the knife flew from her hand. Her assailant ducked to avoid the knife and fired, the bullet hitting plaster. The blade buried itself in a doorframe next to his head.
Her left hand slipped inside the unzipped pouch. The assailant blinked and took aim again. With her hand around the Ruger’s grip Katla folded her right leg under her.
Two muted bangs sounded as she rolled backwards and ended up in a balanced crouch. The pouch fell away and her left hand swung up in a smooth arc. The barrel formed a straight line with her extended arm. She aimed at the assailant’s mouth and squeezed the trigger.
The Ruger’s loud bark filled the corridor and the revolver’s barrel swerved from the recoil. The bullet smashed into the doorway not far from her knife.
Her assailant dove for the other side of the hallway, hit the wall with his shoulder and nearly lost his pistol. The whites of his eyes showed as he fired without aiming, the muted discharge of his pistol sounding like a toy gun compared to the Ruger’s boom.
Her supporting leg collapsed and she sat down hard, the shock jarring through her spine to the arm that held the Ruger.
The assailant stumbled backwards along the wall and fired again. Bullets chipped the carpet and ricocheted past her, whining like killer bees.
With her right hand planted behind her on the carpet, Katla steadied her left arm on her raised left knee and took careful aim, the unwieldy revolver trembling in her hand. The assailant lost his nerve and ran for the elevators, hunched over to provide a smaller target.
Aiming at his lower back, Katla deftly squeezed the trigger. Blue‑white flame spat from the muzzle as the Ruger boomed for the second time. The fleeing gunman pitched forward on his belly, scrambled on all fours around the corner, and disappeared from view.
Katla kept the revolver trained on the corner.
A door slammed in the distance, but even with the ear-filters her ears rang with the echoes of the booming reports and she couldn’t tell if he was truly gone. Her palm stung from the Ruger’s recoil and fine tendrils of smoke curled up from the muzzle and cylinder as she pointed the revolver at the ceiling.
She tried to get up, but her folded right leg tingled like it had fallen asleep. She looked down. Her thigh had a frayed hole in the stocking. Blood welled around the edges and the puffed-up flesh around the wound was numb.
Gritting her teeth, Katla grabbed her pouch and stuck away the Ruger, then crawled to the wall and managed to get to her feet. Dragging her useless leg, she lurched to her knife and wedged it sideways to pull the blade from the doorframe. With the knife in her left hand she moved deeper into the corridor to the emergency staircase at the far end.
About the Author:
Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam with his wife Maaike, two children, two cats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention.
Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work, especially when you’re a stickler for verisimilitude. When your protagonist is a seasoned killer, research can take you right up to Nietzsche’s abyss. Luckily, things get easier after the first few killings…
Apart from being an accomplished prevaricator, Martyn already possessed an eclectic variety of skills that qualified him to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Skills he shares with his deadly fictional characters…
Find the book on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Reprobate-Katla-Amsterdam-Assassin-ebook/dp/B0094VD7JW
Read Martyn’s thoughts on his blog: https://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/
Or visit his website:http://tao-of-violence.weebly.com/