cover image Assassin’s Mark

Assassin’s Mark

Ward Larsen. Forge, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-2507-9823-7

Larsen’s pulse-pounding ninth outing for David Slaton (following 2022’s Assassin’s Edge) sees the intelligence operative tracking down forces who’ve conspired to kill the American president. The U.S. has been rocked by a pair of back-to-back tragedies the press has dubbed “March Madness”: first, an Air Force reconnaissance plane crashed in the Arctic, and then a Navy guided-missile destroyer sunk in the Black Sea. Though many believe Russia is behind both incidents, President Elayne Cleveland lacks concrete evidence to support that theory and justify retaliation. A short time later, terrorists launch an attack on Marine One, the helicopter transporting Cleveland from Andrews Air Force base to the White House; an AI-enhanced drone cripples the aircraft, crashing it and leaving Cleveland grievously injured. Her vice president, Lincoln Quarrels, assumes the role of acting president, and he asks Slaton to find out who was behind the assassination plot. Early signs point to Trident, a shadowy group specializing in high-tech weapons that Slaton has faced down before, but it seems they’ve tapped a new agent to do their dirty work—and she may have already infiltrated the highest levels of American government. What might be goofy is rendered plausible and thrilling in Larsen’s hands, with action that rivals top-shelf Tom Clancy. This is brisk, high-quality entertainment. (Nov.)