Another fast-paced novel from Gayle Lynds! In the opening pages, which take place in 2003 in Baghdad at the site of the National Museum of Iraq, the reader is introduced to the eponymous killers, the best in the world at what they do, whose mission it is to steal a cuneiform tablet which will in turn lead them to the many tens of millions, if not billions, of dollars that had belonged to the now-dead Saddam Hussein.
Jumping to the present time, with a hit-and-run murder quickly taking place, the novel brings the reader to Washington, D.C. and nearby spots in Maryland and Virginia, as well as Marrakech, Iraq and Beirut, with plenty of bloodshed, a lot of weaponry, and some fascinating history along the way. The author manages a seemingly impossible task: to humanize each paid killer, among them Judd Ryder, a 34-year-old former member of US Army Intelligence who had done ‘blood work’ in Pakistan and Iraq; Tucker Andersen, from a secret CIA unit; Burleigh Morgan, a Brit from the old East End; a former KGB member; an Israeli; a former Cosa Nostra killer; others including “the Padre,” “the Carnivore, “the Choirmaster,” a former Islamic Jihad, as well as a couple of women who are no less fearless than the men. Each also, it appears, has a target on his/her back, often from one or another of their own group. As the author says, “an assassin could never be too careful with his friends.”
I must admit to at times having difficulty keeping up with just who is who in this cast of characters, each having at least one alias and various very professional disguises, but that in no way took away from the suspenseful ride. Spy thrillers generally are not among my favorites, but Gayle Lynds transcends the genre, with terrific characters and an imaginative plot, and I greatly look forward to any future books she writes, in this series or otherwise.